Of myths and realities-Part I

We, as individuals, come across an array of myths in our daily lives. I too, like most of you, was exposed to an array of myths at an early age. As a child, I refrained myself from questioning these myths. Ah, not because I was scared of asking questions ad being rebuked, but because the gamut of my knowledge, as a child, was too ignorant (or should I say confined?) to look at things from a critical POV.

Years rolled by, and within no time, I crossed my teens and became an adult. Information could now be accessed through smartphones, but even in an era where technology was booming, I wanted my questions to be answered by a human. One fine day, out of curiosity, I finally asked my father: “ Why can’t I cut my nails on a Tuesday?”My father, in an attempt to clear the air around this question, answered: “Who knows why. I have followed a similar practice ever since I was a little boy”. Now, this was perhaps the last thing I was expecting to listen. Sometimes, though not always, I get a feeling that when people cannot explain something rationally, they tend to call it a ‘tradition’. Well, this is perhaps the easiest way of escaping from the situation unharmed.

Science too, just like anything and everything else under the sun, has been ‘plagued’ by myths.  With some sincere research work being carried out by scientists every now and then, the ‘mysteries’ surrounding these myths have now seen the light of the day.

Talking of traditions, let us take a look at some of the myths that have now been debunked. Thank you, science.

  1. The moon has a Dark side

For a long time, people used to believe that the moon has a dark side. That is perhaps because we can view nearly 59% of the moon’s surface. The rest of it is completely hidden. It is because of tidal locking. Most people tend to believe that the moon doesn’t rotate. The truth, however, is that the moon does rotate. It takes the same amount of time to rotate around its axis as it takes to complete one revolution of the earth.

  1. Seasons are caused because the earth’s varying distance from the sun:

Contrary to the popular belief, seasons aren’t a result of the earth’s constantly distance from the sun. If scientific research is to be believed, these seasons are caused by an approximate tilt of the earth’s axis (that is an imaginary line) measuring 23.5 degrees. This, in the simplest of terms, would mean that the North polar Axis of the earth is tilted toward the sun, providing the countries lying the northern hemisphere with longer days and shorter nights. It would be interesting to note that the earth is about 3% closer to the sun in January than it is July. Well, that isn’t enough to minimize the winter’s cold. After all, what good is the heat of the summer without the cold of the winter to give it sweetness? Again, thanks to NASA.

  1. Is Glass a high viscosity liquid? No, not really

Well, I too nurtured this belief that glass is a liquid. That is because I could see my reflection in glass as well as in water. To overthrow the notion, I’d say that glass used in medieval buildings was quite thicker at the base. It is believed that glass used to be thick, but the extent of thickness began slacking with the passage of time. Craftsmen in the medieval era deliberately kept one side of the glass thicker than the other for it to be used as the base. Come on guys, glass isn’t the wonder liquid. The source isn’t available.

  1. Lightning does strike twice at the same place

To be honest, I have witnessed the lightning striking a building twice. The incident occurred after my father had decided to raise a fund to install a lightning conductor in the building. It was 2014 and we were residing in Himachal Pradesh. For those of you who do not know what a lightning conductor is, it’s a metal rod installed to divert the flow of lightning into the ground. After the conductor got installed, we were asked not to touch it during rainfall.

 5. We have five senses

Well, I am quite sure that my science teachers would disagree with me after they read this segment. Thanks to the internet, I now know that there are four more senses apart from the five we’ve been taught at school. Apart from the five basic senses ( touch, smell, taste, vision, and sound), we have four more lesser-known senses. Which are:

  • A sense of temperature ( you can sense the temperature rising or dropping)
  • A sense of balance ( you’d realize this when you ride a bicycle)
  • A sense of pain
  • A sense of body awareness ( You know that your body parts are intact even if you don’t see them)

‘The Address’ by Marga Minco teaches us not to regret the past…

A feeling of nostalgia seems to have taken over me. While flipping through the pages of my class XI English textbook named Snapshots, I came across a chapter that has inspired me quite significantly with its simplistic storytelling. A striking feature of this story is the sheer ease with which the author has portrayed a multitude of emotions, right from betrayal to melancholy, and everything in between. The story by Marga Minco, a Dutch journalist, reiterates the fact that dwelling in the past only ends up adding to the emotional turmoil a person might be going through in his/her life.

 The story further brings to light that as soon as we accept something and move on in life, the better we’re bound to feel. Accepting something not only makes us feel better emotionally, it also helps us to concentrate on the opportunities that might come our way in the not so distant future.

An Overview:

The Address by Marga Minco narrates the story of a lady (possibly the author herself), who, after losing her entire family in the Holocaust, returns to ‘the address’ in order to collect all her family’s possessions that the author’s mother had left with Mrs. Dorling, a non-Jewish lady, before leaving her homeland.

After the war was over, the author went to Mrs. Dorling’s house to collect all her past possessions, but to her surprise, Mrs. Dorling refused to recognize her. In a second attempt, the author rings the doorbell of Mrs. Dorling’s house, only to be welcomed by her daughter. She offered her a cup of tea and asked her to wait for Mrs. Dorling. As the author ran her eyes around the room, she saw the cups and other utensils her mother had left with Mrs. Dorling. She also came across the tablecloth with burn marks on it. She left the house without waiting for Mrs. Dorling to return.

Human Emotions Portrayed:

‘The Address’ by Marga Minco throws light on a multitude of human emotions. On her first visit to 46, Marconi Street (Mrs. Dorling’s house), the author was shown a cold shoulder by Mrs. Dorling. This act of Mrs. Dorling is enough to tell us that the author’s mother was betrayed by Mrs. Dorling.

The author, on the other hand, was being overpowered by emotional turmoil and sadness after Mrs. Dorling hadn’t recognized her. After being treated unpleasantly by Mrs. Dorling on her very first visit to the house, the author developed an awful impression of Mrs. Dorling. To her, she was a thief who had refused to recognize her as she didn’t want to return the possessions that the author’s mother had left behind.

On her second visit, the author was welcomed by Mrs. Dorling’s daughter, who, unlike her mother, asked the author to come in and even offered her a cup of tea. The author, while running her eyes around the house, saw a few things her mother had left with Mrs. Dorling. She also observed that Mrs. Dorling’s daughter loves those possessions quite dearly and is proud of possessing them. In the end, the author decided against taking her possessions along as she felt that all these possessions would remind her of her family members who had died during the course of the war.

Leaving Everything Behind

The story clearly brings to light the fact that holding onto the past can be an extremely painful exercise. It goes without saying that forgetting the moments and the experiences that torment you can be a really daunting task, but once you accept your past wholeheartedly, you tend to get a big overweight monkey off your back. The author, despite being attached to memories of her past, had the courage to leave them behind in order to make a fresh beginning.

‘The Address’ by Marga Minco is indeed an inspiring story which sheds an adequate amount of light on the importance of letting things go. It further reiterates that both past and future are illusions, and all we have with us is the present.