Pretend it’s 1940 and you’re watching Gone with the Wind with your G or BF in the last row of a large hall and pretending not to be rummaging through each other’s bodies. But now think of the loafers in the first few rows way below you. Since light travels at 300,000 kmph the visual component of Ms Vivien Leigh’s (born in St Paul’s School in Darjeeling if you please) beauty reaches your entwined eyes at almost exactly at the same time as it does the idlers’ peepers in front.
Ah but what about her dusky evening voice? Sound travels at 344 mps at 20 degrees C. If the hall is 50 metres from the screen to your secluded lover’s lane then La Leigh’s “After all tomorrow is another day” should take approximately 0.14 seconds after her image arrives right? Lip sync would be lost forever. So how did director Victor Fleming and hundreds after him overcome this problem?
(The ornery oldster problem was: “Write any number in words and count the letters. Write down that number in words again. Count the letters again. Write down again. Count again. You’ll always end up in 4. Why?”)
Whatever number you write in words and count the letters, you are bound to ultimately end with the numbers 3 to 10. Of these SIX and TEN are 3 letters, FOUR, FIVE, NINE are 4 letters, THREE, SEVEN and EIGHT are 5 letters. When you count and write again the numbers THREE, FOUR, FIVE all reduce to 4 letters after 2, 0 and 1 iterations respectively. -- Dr Ramakrishna Easwaran, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Number 4 is known as a cosmic number due to the fact that it has the same number of letters in its word version as the value of the number it represents. -- Seshagiri Row Karry, email@example.com
The primary reason why any number, written in words and the number of letters in the word form again written in words and the process continued, ends up in four is that the number of letters in the word “four” and the number itself are the same. And the second reason is that no other number has this property. Consequently, any number written in words, irrespective of the number of letters in its word form, reduces, after a few reiterations, to a single digit number. These numbers, in turn, reduce to four. -- Balagopalan Nair K, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Hey GC, I have no idea why I’m running this. But since I guess it must mean something to you, where’s the harm, right? -- MS) Write any number in words and count the letters. Write down that number in words again. Count the letters again. Write down again. Count again. You’ll always end up with 4. Why? Answer: because there are 4 letters in the word “rape”! To my beloved Raj, who is no more. -- Gopal Chandu, email@example.com
(The second one was: “If nitrogen is lighter than oxygen then why hasn’t it accumulated at the top of the atmosphere?”)
Oxygen and nitrogen don’t usually separate in normal air. Moreover, the difference in the mass of oxygen and nitrogen is not that significant, and what matters is their density. -- Lipika Muthu, firstname.lastname@example.org
If Nitrogen would have been in a closed environment such as in a balloon, it would ascend in the space above. But since Nitrogen is in a homogeneous mixture of air, gaseous diffusion takes place. This colliding and diffusing (spreading) of molecules occupies the space evenly; and then shows no tendency to separate again. -- Saifuddin S F Khomosi, Dubai.
This would be the case in an absolutely shielded still system. Due to the very small difference in their densities, even here, the separation of N2 and O2 would not be as much as for a gas (say, helium) which has much lower density. Incidentally here are two interesting related questions. (Wait let me put the magic BGTN words in first.. -- MS)
BUT GOOGLE THIS NOW
1. When liquid nitrogen spills on the floor, the gaseous nitrogen from it stays at the bottom (at least, for a while) even though N2 is lighter than air. Why? Also, if ozone is denser than air, why is it up there in the stratosphere? (Submitted by Ramakrishna Easwaran, email@example.com)
2. You reach a river at point A and wish to know the width across to B. Since you have no means of crossing the river, what is the easiest way of finding the width?
Sharma is a scriptwriter and former editor of Science Today magazine.