Saturday, January 30, 2010

Applied Science

I was taking out the garbage today. Sarp must have thrown out some fish or something. It stank.

The smaller elevator arrived first. I was in a rush so I took it. Within seconds it stunk. I tried not to gag. It was unbearable. I thought about diffusion.

I remember being happy it was winter, the cold was helping keep the odor from laying siege to my scent receptors at top pace. And at least this elevator was faster than the big one. My mind wandered. I thought of a thousand scenarios in which the rank-smelling ester particles from the bag of trash impacted me more or less intensely, depending on the circumstances. I thought about a big elevator at the North Pole and a tiny elevator in Cairo in July. A few key factors like elevator size, speed, and temperature could drastically change my experience.

In third year physical biochemistry we learned about diffusion. How particles randomly disperse around the container they're in (in this case elevator). The intensity of the scent is related to the concentration of the scent producing particles in a given space. At one point our prof vaguely alluded to pizza being delivered, and how everyone "Tucan Sam's" their way to the kitchen. The garbage and elevator scenario is the same thing. Either way, I like education, - and I remember it the most - when it's directly applicable to situations in my life. It's all a matter of how the math is framed, I guess. If it will get me out of a stinky situation it might be just worth solving!

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