Sunday, 24 August 2014

One for the Scientists, or Ilkley Moor

This being Sunday, the 11.30 sung mass at the French Church in Soho is ever a pre-dim sum option. It will be packed, though - the congregation of fashionable young French professionals in London these days swamping the few elderly black-coated French women who used to attend. Jean Cocteau's mural of Roman soldiers, a surprise for visitors and one of my Secrets of London, always cheers me up. Anyway, a question for the scientists.

A website called Scientific Britain gives the maths behind the pint of water wonder; that is, the wonder that if you poured a pint of water into the sea in Suffolk, and waited a year or two, that you could pull a pint of water out of the sea anywhere in the world and it would contain a molecule from the original pint. If fact, the boffins tell us, it would probably contain 8,100 molecules from the original pint.

Say a Roman soldier drowned off the coast of Suffolk, his body taken to the bottom by the weight of his armour. eaten by the fish, and dissolved by the waves, every molecule of him, every drop of water, gramme of salt, pinch of protein would be distributed, broken down, circulated. It would evaporate and fall as rain, swelling the crops in the fields, dry as powdery dust on shorelines and be blown by the wind, turn from fish to bird to man and back again to molecule. The scientists can work it out, but I'll bet that I can't eat a slice of bread or drink a cup of wine without it containing a few molecules that once made up that Roman soldier. 

The wonder is that there are many more molecules in a single Roman soldier than there are cups combined of water and biomass on earth. It's almost miraculous.   


auralay said...

By that count there are molecules of every large animal that ever lived.
Can I sell you a bottle of homeopathic dinosaur pee?

Raedwald said...

Yes - and molecules of Mohammed in every pint of Adnams Ale!

G. Tingey said...

The whole point, the basics of it is that IT IS NOT MIRACULOUS.
This what really (REALLY) annoys those of us with Mathematical/Physics training.
And what the blackmailing liars of the priests, of any religion , use to bamboozle the gullible.

Unfortunately, your post of 08.17 is probably wrong, because the old bastard was buried in the desert, not dumped into the sea.
Though it is entirely possible there might be one or two ....

Raedwald said...

Ah, but as he dessicated in the dry desert air, the 70% x 50kg = 43 litres of water would have evaporated, formed clouds and rained, eventually on the barleyfields of Norfolk and hop farms of Kent...

Anonymous said...

We are all privileged to have drunk some of Leonardo da Vinci's urine.

Ian Hills said...

That communion wine sure addles the brain...

Anonymous said...

And glorious Caesar, turned to clay
Will stop a hole to keep the wind away
(W,S, got there first, Radders)

anon 2 said...

Not quite so microscopic, but in the same spirit:

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every hyacinth the garden wears
Dropped in its lap from some once lovely head.

And this delightful herb, whose tender green
Fledges the river's lip on which we lean--
Ah, lean upon it lightly! For
Who knows from what once lovely lip it springs unseen.

(Edward Fitzgerald (1809-83) Trans: "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" (1048-1131) - [aka "FitzOmar"] - Stanzas 18/19).

Ps John Waller said...

Sounds like another one of those "six degrees of separation" type myths to me.

G. Tingey said...

Emphatically NOT a a myth - look up Avogadro's Number