The paradoxical nature of some English expressions and items

110%. The bigger half. Needless to say. A solar powered flashlight.

How planes become airborne

In the first half of 2019, I flew roughly 40,000 miles, or the equivalent of nearly twice the earth’s circumference. During my frequent travels, I often think about takeoff and how it works. To summarize my research (which is often conducted while flying), takeoff is a complex and multi-step process: engines are run at high power to check for issues; the aircraft must then accelerate to rotation speeds (known in the industry as Vr); and the nose of the aircraft must be raised to a ~5°-15° nose up pitch altitude to increase lift from the wings. The actual behavior looks like this: a pilot pulls back on the stick/yoke, the elevators are raised, which changes the stabilizer, and this eventually deflects air up while pushing the tail down. These actions cause lift, and eventually enable a plane to become airborne. After Covid19 it will be interesting to see how flying (and airports) change. Just like with 9/11, airports changed profoundly. We guess that airplanes and how we travel, pack, and eat on the road will change significantly as well. When you tell future generations about travel before 2020 and after, what do you think the largest and most noticeable changes will be?

Why contact lenses enable me to see

Like millions of other people, I need corrective lenses. I am farsighted, which means that my eyes do not have adequate focusing power. When I wake up and put on my contacts, I feel like a different person. I can see everything on my calendar whiteboard. Why? My contact lenses correct my farsightedness by converging light rays. This moves my eye’s focus point forward, onto the retina. The ability of a lens to refract and focus light, so that objects appear clearly, profoundly changes my day, and my vision. It feels a bit like magic — and something I often reflect on (no pun intended).

The reason for the seasons

I recently traveled from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere and went from a climate that necessitated a thick jacket and gloves to a t-shirt and shorts as the temperature delta approached 40°F. What is the reason for the seasons? During the year, the seasons change depending on the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth as it revolves around the Sun. The seasons are caused as the Earth, tilted on its axis, travels in a loop around the Sun on a yearly basis. Summer happens in the hemisphere tilted towards the Sun, and winter happens in the hemisphere tilted away from the Sun. As the Earth travels around the Sun, the hemisphere that is tilted towards or away from the Sun changes. Hence a decent explanation for why India in July is so much warmer than Australia.

The value of uniqueness

If you saw this article online, you are unique. Only roughly ~2.4B have access to the internet today, which equates to approximately 34% of the world’s population. If you are reading this post, you are not part of the 1B non-literate adults in the world today. These 1B individuals comprise 26% of the world’s adult population. If you are reading this post and do not suffer from chronic undernourishment, you are not part of the ~870M people that suffer daily from hunger in the world today. In short, you are unique for many reasons, but your ability to access the internet, read, and obtain food daily are among three such reasons. Covid-19 showed us that despite our uniqueness, we are all just humans. And we suffer from the same points and have similar hopes and aspirations. We are unique, but we are also alike. 

The power of compound interest

If a 20-year-old makes a one time $5,000 contribution to a retirement account, and earns an average 8% annual return, that investment will grow to to $160,000 by the time of retirement at age 65. But if that contribution is done per annum (every year, for 45 years), and the money earns an average of 8%, the retirement value will total over $1.9M. This example shows the insane power of compound interest although it does not factor in taxes or withdrawals.

Why so many people lead the lives that others expect them to live — but that they don’t truly want

I read an article recently about a palliative nurse who counselled the dying in their last days, and who revealed the most common regret her patients shared before passing away “was that people wish they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them.” One day, when my life is almost over, will I look back with a sense of clarity on the behaviors, actions, relationships, careers, motivations that drove me with a sense of happiness and fulfilment? Or will I look at how I allocated my time with a sense of regret, knowing that many of my truest dreams went unfulfilled? Answering these questions will generate the most thinking (and one day) amazement.

When you are Working From Home at your ladder desk and on your next break, you will have time to ponder one or many of these. In fact, there are many things to think about in this world. What brings us together. What divides us. How can we make collective improvements to society and our jobs to better protect our communities and families? We know that working from home will change how we commute, interact, and work. We will use webcams and zoom calls more. These changes in our behavior will add even more things to ponder because, inevitably, these changes will lead to new societal outcomes, products, work-flows, and movements.