The joy of learning: Of fire and trees and Dr. Feynman

by | Thursday, August 01, 2013


Trees are some of the largest living things in the world. They can weigh tons. For instance the  One Oak Tree project measured and weighed a 222 year old Oak tree – and it’s weight was 14.4 Tonnes (3.86 tonnes of which was dry weight). That’s a lot of stuff! And this is not even an exceptional tree by any stretch of the imagination.


And imagine that all this stuff starts from a small oak seed! So where does all this bulk come from?Who better to explain it than Dr. Feynman in this awesome video from 1983.


What stands out is palpable joy he has in understanding and explaining something. I loved his description of fire, for instance.

Coming back to the Oak tree, the carbon content of the tree was almost 5 tonnes! That’s how much carbon it had taken in from the air in the 222 years it had lived on this earth. That’s a lot of carbon, incorporated into the tree, a few atoms at a time! How cool is that.

If you want to learn more about how trees get their mass see this video from Veritasium (here’s their YouTube channel)


[H/T Brain Pickings for the Feynman Video & Krulwich Wonders for the Veritasium video and the One Oak Tree project for the images]

Topics related to this post: Biology | Evolution | Fun | Learning | Science | Stories | Teaching | Worth Reading

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