2017-07-12 Wed

Questions Swirl Around Teen’s Death

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A cute headline, if nothing else in The Toronto Star.

Every time the Toronto Star reports a death-by-drowning, they fail to explain to the general public WHY you die in the water.

To my mind there are two primary reasons:-

(1) Hypothermia. (Loss of the body’s heat energy)

It matters not how good a swimmer, floater or water-treader you are. Practically every body of swimmable water on the face of this earth is at a temperature lower than human body temperature. That is, the lake or ocean or river is below 98.6ºF or 37ºC.

Physics alone (Thermodynamics if you want to be choosy) tells us that heat flows from a warmer body to a cooler body.

So heat WILL FLOW from your body into the body of water. And no amount of training, waterproofing, olympic-standard swimstrokes makes one iota of difference. As time passes, hour by hour, heat will flow from your (warmer) body into the (cooler) body of water.

Your body will burn its own fuel, stored from the last few meals you ate, to produce heat in a vain effort to maintain your body temperature at 37ºC. But since you have nothing to eat, your store of energy will dissipate, until your body is at the same temperature as the body of water. Before that time comes, you will be dead.

A Life Jacket can help, because a life jacket can save your exertions to stay afloat, and allows you to use your precious energy to swim somewhere – the closest shore if you are in a lake. But if you are on a large lake, you will die.

(2) Kinetic Energy. (Gain in Kinetic energy)

Physics again informs us that the kinetic energy in a moving object is given by the formual E= ½ mv2. That is, the energy of your motion is proportional to the square of your velocity. Double the velocity, four times the energy. Triple the velocity, nine times the enrgy. Quadruple – sixteen times.

But consider a moving body of water – a brook, a rill, a stream, a river, a fire-hose, a mass of air. The mass of that flowing stream is proportional to the velocity. If the stream doubles its speed, then twice as many molecules of water are flowing past a spot in any given period.

So the kinetic energy in a flowing fluid (water or air) is proportional to the cube of the velocity. Double the velocity, eight times the energy. Triple the velocity, twenty-seven times the enrgy. Quadruple – sixty-four times.

So, when you are swept away in a stream or river that is travelling at three or four times its normal speed, the odds are not so much stacked against you as crashing into you, dashing you against the rocks and the river-bed, tumbling you over like the proverbial.

And no Olympic swimmer can beat that energyu.

And the river’s energy is relentless. You can fight the current for a minute or two, if your brains aren’t dashed out against a rock or the river bed (Think “sixty-four times the enrgy”), but the river is going to keep on bashing you until you are unconscious.

Then you drown.

The Impact of the Ecological Movement

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Here’s a thought:-

Suppose that a major country, major in terms of population, economy, and neighbourliness (so rule out Australia) decides to stop manufacturing and selling vehicles – private and commercial – that run on gasoline, petrol, essence, or diesel fuel.

Then every one who lives in that country has to buy electric vehicles.

Then the demand for oil-based fuels drops off.

Then the number of service stations that serve oil-based fuels shrivels away to practically nothing.

Whe the number of service stations shrivels away to nothing, then anyone foolish enough to drive their oil-based vehicle into the country – France as an example – from Spain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland or Italy will be limited to driving not more than three hours from the border. (Regular vehicles get seven to eight hours driving on a tank of gas).

That would put pressure on the neighbouring countries - Spain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy – to convert at least a portion of their vehicles to electric.

A courageous decision by one nation, even on the periphery of a conglomerate of nations, can have a ripple effect across the landmass.