Tag Archives: physics

Enticing Eiffel

What is it about this Puddling Iron grid structure that is so alluring? The 300m tall structure is iconic and makes it impossible to imagine Paris (or France) without it. Paris and Eiffel are now synonymous.

When you look at the Eiffel for the first time with your own eyes, after having seen its pictures in magazines, travel brochures and movies, you just can’t help being awestruck. A sigh escapes your being at the sheer marvel that it is. Actually, perhaps one is not really prepared for the grandiose, because the key-chain models and souvenir replicas that your relatives gifted you after their exciting Paris tour are poor replicas of the actual wonder.

The 7300 tons of iron make for an intriguing study in architecture and science. The Eiffel tower is the subject that inspires thousands of painters, artists and romantics throughout the world.

Eiffel up close
Eiffel up close

This June I was fortunate to visit Paris along with my husband. Just as we were about to leave after having our fill of the beautiful monument, my eye caught something that even tour guides fail to tell you. Just below the first balcony, I saw the names of famous physicists and mathematicians engraved on the sides of the tower. The physicist in me was mighty pleased to spot the names of Malus (Malus Law), Carnot (Carnot heat engine), Ampere (Ampere circuital law) and many more! In fact there are 72 names of French scientists, engineers, chemists and mathematicians engraved on the 4 sides with 18 names on each side of the tower. Gustave Eiffel got these names engraved in recognition of their contributions to society. The picture above was clicked by my dear husband; if you zoom the picture a bit , you could spot some of the names that feature on the North East side of the tower.

Into the Eiffel- Lift view
Into the Eiffel- Lift view

But what makes this gigantic structure so romantic?

Oh yes! If I may answer my own question- Its the beautiful landscaping around the tower, its visibility from various locations particularly the river Seine, the lights, and the sparkling lights at night, that lend an almost ethereal glow to the tower itself and the whole area around, transforming it magically. And the iron grid? Doesn’t the huge iron grid structure symbolize stability? Stable enough to last more than a century and still counting. Isn’t stability a trait that we all long for in lasting relationships? The promise makes Eiffel enticing!

All the photographs in this post are original clicks by the author and her husband, Anil Nanda.

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History- Land of Confusion

I am a physicist and the reaction which I most often get from people I meet for the first time is that of awe. “How come you studied Physics? That is one subject I really used to fear while in school. It is so confusing!” is the general reaction. And seriously, I try to look like my humblest best and not like a cat who licked the cream, because such statements do make me feel important and intelligent. But let me tell you a secret. I too dreaded one subject when I was in school- History.

Physics was at least a logical study leading to some conclusion and attempted to unravel the mysterious laws of nature. History is also a subject based on facts and figures and perhaps some logical or illogical thinking of the rulers and kings of the past. The worst were our teachers who took our exams; expecting us to write whole essays covering the life and conquests of these kings, generation after generation! One of our teachers just looked at the length of the answer. The longer the write up , more the marks you get. No wonder some of the brave ones in our class wrote movie stories in between the answer, filling pages after pages. The first two paragraphs and the last paragraph were only relevant to the question, the middle part of the answer was a cleverly hidden movie story. Also don’t forget all those dates associated with various wars that had to be mugged up. Please historians, don’t take offence, but I was really very relieved when I passed out of school and joined college where I had to study History no longer.

Time has passed. Now I love and enjoy travelling. I enjoy visiting different places steeped in History. It gives so much character to the place and I wish to explore more. History seems so much like fun and not a burdensome job of learning endless lists of dates. My perception towards the subject has now changed. I salute all those great leaders, kings, spiritual leaders and soldiers who have greatly contributed in making all the beautiful palaces, forts, minars,museums, gardens and various world heritage sites throughout the world. Many of these are also part of the seven wonders of the world. History is no longer my land of confusion.

New7 Wonders of the world picture courtesy: wikipedia

Cover pic: courtesy of pixabay

Ice, Water, Steam – The Mighty Forces of the Universe

Water- the lifeblood of all living beings is a subject of much intrigue to mankind. Ice, water, steam the three forms of H2O are overpowering mighty forces of the universe. Technically, from the ‘Physics’ point of view they are not forces in themselves (water and its forms are all 3 different states of matter) but can exert tremendous forces both good and bad.

Let me focus on the good first. Water is pure and so humble. It has no shape or form of its own. No taste. It takes the form of the container in which put and acquires the taste of the flavourings it is subjected to, completely losing its own identity. This is so difficult, to lose your own identity, but water does it so easily. Mix it with some fruit concentrate it becomes a refreshing drink, add a tea bag, and no one will call it water anymore!

According to the yogic philosophy, water is breath.To quote from renowned dietician and author Rujuta Diwekar’s book , Don’t Lose Out,Work Out, “drinking water is like a pranayama practice, and just like you can’t rush through pranayama, you sit for it with certain protocol, you should accord the same treatment to water”.

Water is healing and soothing. One can live without food but not water as about 60% of our body is made up of water. Daily intake of at least 8 glasses of water per day can help to eradicate and cure several health problems as harmful toxins get flushed out of the system.  Externally too, a refreshing shower after a grueling  day at work or sweating it out in the kitchen is like a balm for sore nerves. The pitter-patter of the water drops on the skin immediately transports the self into a blissful state banishing all signs of physical or emotional stress.

Care for a bubbly topped with crushed ice? Can you imagine lemon ice tea minus the ice? Well this frozen wonder is an important part of our day to day lives and is also an integral part of medical treatment and industry.

Who hasn’t heard of the steam engine and the steam iron? Steam is powerful – it has the power to push and to smoothen and to burn. In fact steam burns can be even more painful than water at 100 degree centigrade because of the extra  latent heat that steam possesses. Steam is also used to run turbines in a nuclear power reactor.

Heaven forbid, water and its forms can cause utmost devastation and damage when uncontrolled and nature decides to unleash its fury on unsuspecting beings. The tsunami in 2004 in Indian ocean and more recently in Japan have left behind many scars. Recent flooding in the Kashmir valley has caused immense destruction.  A mighty ship Titanic, sunk due to the impact of a collision with an iceberg. And we have already said that steam has the power to burn. The more one thinks about the impact of  H2O in our lives , the more awestruck it makes us feel.

 

 

 

Picture Source: pixabay.com