E-MAIL:  4 BILLION ELECTRONS OF GRATITUDE... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

MANILA, JANUARY 4, 2012 (STAR) DE RERUM NATURA By Maria Isabel Garcia - It was literally an extremely light effort on my part.

In 2011, I sent out the equivalent weight of much less than a speck of dust. NPR Science blogger Robert Krulwich made me realize this in his blog last week entitled “How Much Does an Email Weigh?”

According to his research, one e-mail the size of 50kb uses energy equivalent to eight billion electrons which weighs two ten thousandths of a quadrillionth of an ounce.

I checked my columns this year and their average size is 25kb which is about four billion electrons. Multiply that by 52 for every week and that makes for about 208 billion electrons. Sounds like a lot until you know that all five million terabytes of info in the Net weighs only 0.2 millionths of an ounce.  

The content of all of my columns was synthesized in my brain, which, just like any other live human brain, generates only 20 watts of electricity. A speck of dust from a 20-watt blob that helps me be me — doing my most favorite thing of all — writing — and on a topic that most fascinates me — science — and sharing it with you — friends, family and strangers, every week.

I have never stopped being grateful that I can do that because it is the best job in the world to understand how nature invents and reinvents herself from the works of good, quirky minds in science and just realizing how awesome the universe is!

As I write this, I feel heady thinking about the massive black hole scientists just found. It is about 330 million light years away, the size of 21 billion suns.

[The photo is courtesy of Gemini Observatory/AURA/Lynette Cook]

That mega massive blackhole can suck anything — gigantic things like stars and planets and small things like tea sets, writers and readers. In the same scan of science articles I do regularly, I learned that the smallest motor that has just been made — only a nanometer big — as big as a molecule.

While blackholes can just vacuum anything, even really big things, this nano-motor promises cure/treatment in its smallest but most invasive form — being able to work inside our cells and blood vessels to deliver drugs or do some extremely delicate work in that scale.

Imagine the scale of 21 billion suns on one end and the nano-motor on the other. Now, think of all those in between and even beyond that science probes every day and marvel at what the three-pound, 20-watt brain can reach and make!  

With the same passion, fuelled by the same breaths we take when we do science, we humans also tackle conditions with probably no clear, definite answers the way science would define an “answer.”

We are overpowered by music when we make or listen to it. We are overcome with joy and gratitude when we see our aging parents surmount health problems. We cannot help but cry when we see our children show signs of moving on. We look at our partners and maybe now and then, pat each other that we have something to show for our advancing years. We weep when we see our fellow human beings suffer disasters and injustice and when we can, we help. We break our hearts and close them, only to open our hearts yet again later. We cannot weigh these things in electrons but they form the many meanings of our lives.

I write a science column, a science column that will turn 10 years next year. As I said, it is the best job in the world. It gives me the chance to let you know that the chase to understand this awesome universe has not yet thrown in the towel.

It also gives me the chance to connect these “knowables” with the “unknowables” and “yet unknowables” and throw them to you for whatever they may be worth. I am not a very social person. I still have trouble understanding what Facebook is really for.

This speck of dust is my chance to be “out there,” in my most thoughtful form and to meet with minds also willing to risk losing bits of themselves and their old beliefs when they shake hands with science. That is a rare chance since everyday me is crazy and tentative.

So thank you dear readers, for being open to receiving this speck of dust every week this past year. Happy New Year.

[Other 3 Images are from Google]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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