21 September 2021

Volume

I must admit that when it comes to science, I am a bit thick. As thick as two short planks as we say here in Yorkshire. I am to science what Atilla the Hun was to embroidery. Frigging useless.

Therefore would you please forgive me as I pose this conundrum. It is something that has been in the back of my mind for a long while.

Okay, here we go.

On this planet we have trees and fields. Every year the trees bear masses of leaves, fruit, nuts and seeds. The fields sprout corn, potatoes, turnips, rice and plenty of other stuff.. That's a lot of volume wouldn't you agree? If these products  of the earth were all piled up together we could make massive mountains every year.. Then the next year there'd be more mountains till the planet would be covered with such piles.

Effectively, the planet would be growing - expanding every year - as long as we didn't eat the stuff or burn it. And we would have to protect it from natural rotting processes.

The wheat and the apples and the courgettes (American: zucchini)  grow where once there was nothing - creating  an extra volume of matter. 

It's all very puzzling. I just don't get it... but as I say with regard to science I am a dunce in a pointy hat.

P.S. I hope the trees and the fields continue to produce in the bountiful manner described because climate change has already begun to curtail this timeless process.

24 comments:

  1. But we DO eat stuff. And burn it too. I was never any good at physics either, but I seem to recall some law about energy and mass and the total keeping constant, just transforming from one form to another...

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  2. Theoretically, yes. But vegetation does break down. Bodies decay. Leaves moulder. Food is turned into energy and expended in that way. Trees are burnt in fires to keep us warm, or houses to do the same or paper to wipe our bottoms or write letters to old friends. We use the bounty, in short. It is our responsibility to recognize it as bounty and to use those things wisely. Did you know that Einstein pondered theoretical situations just as you are doing here? One of the things that he pondered was an elevator shaft that stretched clear into outer space... They called HIM one of the great minds of all times.

    Do not let this go to your head, YP.

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    1. I am in awe of your scientific clear-sightedness Debby. I feel like Dopey must have felt after meeting the giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk". A lift (elevator) to outer space - that would save a hell of a lot of rocket fuel.

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    2. A billionaire is building one this very minute.

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    3. One hopes there will be "comfort " stops along the way!

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  3. It's simple. We just turn the volume up to 11.

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  4. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/conservation-matter-during-physical-and-chemical-changes/6th-grade/

    Mass is neither created nor destroyed.

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  5. A very high percentage of vegetation etc consists of water which returns to the atmosphere as it breaks down then comes back as rain to produce the next lot. If the water were removed from all the vegetation you would have small piles of dust, not mountains.

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  6. I think I'll stick to needlework.

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  7. But then it all breaks down again, doesn't it? So a potato, over time, turns into a stew of organic compounds and molecules, and there's a lot less volume there. Still some, granted, but because the components are so tiny it doesn't take up much space. That's my take on it, anyway, not that I am any kind of a scientist myself.

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  8. Love Debby's comment and I can't do better. My daughter with a PhD once drove by a Christmas tree farm in the summer and said, "I can't believe they already have the Xmas trees out-it's way too early!" We howled with laughter and eventually so did she.

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  9. Frigging Useless would be a good name for a Liverpudlian Prog Rock band YP.

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    1. Which would sound best a full volume, hey?

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  10. I seem to recall a law of the conservation of mass. I remember little or nothing about it. On what you have said everything that is produced is consumed it's just one big recycling machine. Or something....

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  11. What Dawn and Debby said :)

    Here's a readable explanation:
    https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/science/continuum/Pages/mattermass.aspx

    It's been often said that the world can easily produce enough food to feed all the people on earth, given certain changes in agriculture, demand, and distribution. Like you, I doubt that will hold true as climate change advances. It didn't have to be like this. That's the part that both saddens and enrages me.

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  12. P. S. I don't really believe you're as thick as you made out to be, just for the record :)

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  13. One glitch in your project is that people won't eat the stuff! It ain't gonna happen. I taught my grade nines volume. They were intereted

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  14. As someone mentioned above, if you consider our planet as a closed system, matter is neither created or destroyed. All those leaves are build from nutrients from the ground and eventually return to the ground. All food is created from the ground and returns to the ground. We too will return back to the ground someday to complete our part of the cycle.

    If anything, since we are ejecting materials out of our atmosphere into the larger cosmos, our planet is probably shrinking until you consider the mass of the asteroids and such that slam into our atmosphere.

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  15. Stuffs piles up and the earth is growing. If not so, why are Roman ruins buried and excavation is needed to dig them up.

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  16. I have often wondered why/how , for instance, roman villa fancy floors, are so far below the present day surface.I was once told that it was something to do with the leaves falling and building up over the years! Can anyone explain it?

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  17. What will vegans eat in the future? Will they their dietary demand cause a shortage of basic plants so that there will be no piles left...?

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  18. I'm sticking with Lovelock's theory, it is called 'homeostasis' Black and white daisies, simple explanation ;)
    http://cobweb.cs.uga.edu/~cs1210/Lectures/GlobalWarming/Gaia.html

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  19. Here is another article from NASA about the earth and it says the earth is not expanding. It's from 2011, though; maybe something has changed - hah.

    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth20110816.html

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