Archimedes Law

On peril of sounding repetitious and tiresome, these columns revert to their theme of the past few days, with the assurance that that is easily done, and in very few words. The problem, however, is that the breeze blowing across some parts of the city tonight – particularly those hit by floods – carries a stench one would not associate with healthy living conditions, diverts minds from abstruse subjects like divine machination, howsoever clumsily one may deal with them, and directs thoughts to more concrete issues like administration, authority, and government. But someone just said that they too had been hit by the deluge, or in other words, submerged.  But forgot to mention whether  “wholly or partially.” Brings to memory the law of Good Old Archimedes and the Eureka he shrieked, leaping naked from his bath, when he found the answer to a problem dogging him for long: how to determine the purity of gold, or some such thing.

Since they teach computers today, and mobile phones, and smart phones that turn dumb when needed the most (like in the recent Kashmir floods), who would remember that ridiculous, scrawny Greek (or was he Roman?) and his funny law when there is so much of Androids, and 3Gs, and Touch Screens floating in the air.  Anyway, yawns notwithstanding, the philosopher must get a hearing, if only for the benefit of school students who probably are about to enjoy the benefits of no class and mass promotion, thanks to a surge of water that the government knows not came from where. So, here goes:

When a body is “wholly or partially” immersed in a fluid, it loses weight, and that loss of weight is equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces.

A school teacher most of Srinagar swears by would turn livid at this parody of one of his most interesting lectures, but regardless, the question that will be debated in Kashmir for long would be whether the government had been immersed in the fluid (wouldn’t flood be a close approximation) “wholly or partially.”  And whether it had lost any weight. But would that not depend on how much fluid it had displaced? Smart phone users won’t get the point even if it is blown up in size by millions upon millions of mega pixels, so what is the use.

As for the theme of the past days, a nagging question holds up progress: whether the title should be exclamatory, or affirmatory, or derogatory. With no Archimedes around – even if there are zillions upon zillions of luxuriously appointed baths, and nearly all of them regurgitating upon their owners – the best option would be to sleep the matter over. As another nutcase is supposed to have said, let us wait for another day, when Caesar’s wife has better dreams.

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