Deforestation of Electrons In The Universe

A clearcut forestFew things are as forlorn looking as pictures of deforestation.  What a dismal destruction of  habitat.  There has to be a better way.  But we must be careful not to create a greater problem.

In the past few years, people have begun to notice that we are saving many trees from this fate by using the internet more often where paper products were used in the past.

Companies throughout America are selflessly offering (and cajoling) us our statements online instead of mailing  us paper statements.  A friend of mine told me that they are doing it to save money, but I would have nothing of that, insisting that their motivation is for environmental causes only.

So while we may be using our computer screens more and paper less, I think it should be noted that said screens use electrons.  And if we are using more electrons to save the trees, couldn’t this be a short sighted tradeoff.  After all, we only have so many electrons in our universe and we could be using them all up.

We have to think these ecological tradeoffs through from end to end, people.

I recently came across a photograph, only slightly retouched, that I think proves my point.

Just look at this.  Isn’t it alarming?  Notice the two areas in the universe that seem to already be clearcut of electrons.

A discussion on particle physics might be useful here.  Please refer to the  microscopic image shown below.

Cartoon images of electrons, protons and neutronsOur universe is totally made up of electrons, protons and neutrons.  Actually there are other sub-atomic particles like quarks and leptons (recently a cure for that) but they are of no account and we will disregard them because they don’t fit my thesis so well.

As shown in the actual microscopic image above, protons are happy particles, neutrons are apathetic and undecided, and electrons are definitely negative.  But for all their negativity, they do some really important things, like create electricity and make electric motors run.

Did you get that electric motors thing?

That means that without electrons, there would be no motors to create refrigeration and blow heat.  Let me spell it out here.  No cold beer or hair dryers!

So you can see this is not a gender specific problem here — we are talking about the end of civilization as we know it if we use up all of our electrons.

So I got to thinking about how many electrons we have in the universe and the answer I came up with was 10 to the 42 power.  For those of you mathematically challenged, that’s a number that looks like this …


For those of you REALLY mathematically challenged, that’s a big number.

Okay, enough said … so it seems we probably have enough electrons for now, although I’m still a bit worried about the picture showing the apparent clear cutting of the electrons.

We’ll keep monitoring the situation here at WoodChips Central and let you know if we start running out.  But we really have to start thinking these ecological tradeoffs through from end to end.  We could have had a real close call here.

Have a great day – and enjoy your cold beverages and hairdryers - J. Daniel

P.S. Feel free to comment by clicking this post title and commenting in the box that appears below.  Here are some possible questions you might want express an opinion on …

1. Is my research into the threat of using up all our electrons totally believable to you?

2. Does it bother you that I might have retouched the picture of the universe just a little bit to show how we’re using up our electrons?  Or do the ends justify the means where electron ecology is concerned?

3. Would you be willing to donate large sums of money (particularly if you answered yes to question 1) to my Save The Electrons Research Fund which will use the funds to purchase a new 34 foot research sailboat to count electrons off the Miami shores?

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