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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...

It's an old song, but one which we know by heart:

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,
How I Wonder What You Are?
Up Above The World So High,
Like A Diamond In The Sky!
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,
How I Wonder What You Are?"

Today I was perversely amused, and a little astonished, to read that scientists at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, have discovered a planet in our Milky Way galaxy, which is composed of hardened carbon. In short, most of the planet is made of diamond. Better yet, the planet is five times the size of Planet Earth! Now, don't believe me? Read the article.1

Now, this diamond planet is 4,000 light years away from us. According to Google's built-in calculator, this translates to
4000 light years = 3.78421136 × 1016 kilometers

Now, how's about this for a flight of fancy? All the bachelors in the world who need to buy a beautiful wedding diamond ring should just get together, pool their money, and hire an astronaut team to go out to that planet and haul back a truckload full of diamonds. Not only would the investors be rich, but their wives too, would be so happy to receive their (assuredly) huge diamond rings. These days, the girls call a ring with an eye-popping diamond on it, a "solitaire". It's one of the must-haves, as much as a kitchen cabinet and a wardrobe. But then, these brides-to-be should ask themselves: how much does it cost? Admittedly, a lot. It costs more than a clerk can afford. More than a teacher can afford. Sometimes, even more than a lawyer can afford. But for the sake of a happy-ever-after marriage, people will pay up.

For the record, the scheme above would not work out -- not in my book anyway. Unless at some point of time, some scientists figure out how to build a "wormhole" to "cut" through the fabric of space, so that space ships can jump through the walls in the space-time continuum, the team of astronauts would have finished all their food and run out of fuel even before 10% of the journey is done and complete. The Earth's circumference measures 40,075.17 kilometers. So travelling 4,000 light years means the equivalent of travelling the Earth's circumference 9:44278304995338£1011 times. 2

Many men have died seeking treasures in life. Many men have fought for it, robbed for it, cheated for it. The rest of us just dream about it, and work hard for it. Sometimes it seems unattainable -- until we figure out just what that treasure in life is. For some, it is money and gold, and dare I say it -- diamonds. For others, it's the company of friends and family. For yet others, it is the joy of travelling, to distant lands, seeing the world in all its glory. I know that my bride-to-be is a travelling lady, and she wants to travel the globe. I know as well, the limitations of my career. I hope that I can satisfy her, but that will be one day. I plan to follow the old folks' way of doing things: work hard, save up, and enjoy a little when we're older. Of course, with better healthcare comes longevity, and this means working for longer than what my grandfathers used to do. But I don't mind. I plan to go into something I love when I'm more matured -- writing, speaking, teaching, even non-profit work that takes me to distant lands. The world will not end just because I cannot afford a solitaire diamond ring that glints and glares in the sunlight. If that is life, then I'll have no part of it. For me, the simple life.


"Diamond planet discovered by astronomers."Washington Post Web. 26 Aug 2011. URL:

2 I used Sage Notebook to calculate this. Try it, it's great -- An online mathematical software!