- Education and Science
Diamonds are Forever ...... But why?
There is something magical about a diamond - whether we own it or not. Its beauty is so simple, yet profound. It is universally adored and vied upon. Just thought of pondering over what makes a diamond, a diamond!
Scientifically speaking, it is nothing but the element Carbon - something that we consider polluting, black and dirty generally. ( as in carbon emissions, greenhouse effect, global warming, coal etc.) And it has a cousin too - graphite - which is used as a conductor of electricity and to make pencil leads. Graphite is also carbon all the way and still nowhere near a diamond.
A diamond is formed about 100-200 kilometres below the surface of the earth over a period of millions of years under tremendous pressure and searing temperatures.
Wait a minute! This is not an article of science alone...
Before the reader concludes that this is only a scientific article, let me change the line of thought to what struck me actually! :)
I have often heard that tough situations make tough people. And the diamond is the oft quoted example for that. “But hang on”, my mind argues, “Graphite too undergoes high temperatures and pressures. It also undergoes chemical processes. So using the diamond as an example is only convenience - something occurring in nature that fits as a glorious example for our purposes!”
And then - an inspired thought! A term that I had learnt in my secondary school flashes in my mind’s eye and then my heart leaps in joy! I have my answer. The diamond is not simply a convenient example - it has a property that makes it worthy of emulation, gives it value and makes it sparkle and shine. Before I dive into that, let me just recap a simply Physics concept.
Whenever light moves from one medium to another ( air to water, glass to air), it bends. This is called refraction. When it moves from a denser medium to a rarer (or less dense) medium, it bends away from the normal or perpendicular. See the light beam in green in the image.
If the light ray comes at a greater angle like the one shown in red, it gets refracted along the plane of the medium. And, like the light ray shown in blue, if it comes in a greater angle, it gets reflected into the same medium! Now imagine a light ray that is always made to strike the change-of-medium interface at an angle that makes it get reflected. That is what happens in a diamond.
The diamond has so many faces (cuts) that a light ray gets reflected and it strikes another face at an angle that makes it get reflected. This goes on. Thus, the more finely the diamond is cut, the greater is its sparkle. Simple right?
Now comes the thrilling part. You know what is this phenomenon of light getting reflected called? It is TOTAL INTERNAL REFLECTION!
The diamond sparkles and gains value because of total internal reflection.
Life presents us with challenges. Tough situations - situations of intense pressure and intense heat - often break us. But if we want to come out of these situations, shining and with added value, we need to cultivate the practise of totally reflecting within! It is only then that we will be able to sparkle brilliantly. It is only then do we hear the voice of our Lord.
Bhagawan Baba says, “It is only in the depths of silence that the voice of God is heard.” And this is not mere physical silence. It is the silencing of the mind. And Swami so simply put it as, “I give you diamond to inspire you to become die-mind!”
Ah! My beautiful Lord! Only you can put it so succinctly yet so profoundly! I have heard of Kimberly diamonds and DeBeers diamonds. I want to be a Sai diamond.
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© 2011 Aravind Balasubramanya