The square root of ocean

This evening a friend told me that the number of molecules of water in a teaspoon is, more or less, about the same as the number of teaspoons of water in the ocean.

I am completely entranced by this idea. In some very real sense, a teaspoon is the midpoint between an ocean and all of that ocean’s molecules of water.

Some of you are no doubt thinking of “Cosmic View”, the brilliant book by Kees Boeke that was later so beautifully adapted by Charles and Ray Eames into their “Powers of Ten” films. Both the book and the films that followed were tours de force of exposition, spanning the full scale of our Universe.

But for me, the teaspoon image is powerful precisely because it is so simple. I hold an ordinary teaspoon in my hand, filled with a small quantity of water. On one side of me is the mighty ocean. On the other side, an equal distance away, lies the mysterious nanoscopic world of molecules.

What could be more lovely?

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