What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
And when we bring what is within us into the world, miracles happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
American Essayist & Poet
I had a late lunch this afternoon. Just back from the second school-run of the day with the good woman of the house, I was soon settled down to a sumptuous meal. What else will one eat now? Eba and soup the most ubiquitous staple food on this side of the planet. Occupying the throne end of the dining table and slowly slicing away at the modest heap, Willy was soon at my side. Rambunctious and as inquisitive as ever, I was just thinking within myself, “Willy, what again? Allow me to finish this meal in peace now before badgering me with your latest question or findings” Undaunted by my quiet internal rumblings, he was all smiles and infectious excitement as he edged to my side by the dining table.
WILLY: Daddy do you know that the area of the earth is 510,000,000 kilometers square?
DADDY: No I don’t. Where did you get that information?
(Within me, I was wondering if that was his latest discovery from our monthly always arriving several months late issues of National Geographic.)
WILLY: I went to our school library today. I read a book on geography. That was where I learnt it
(I immediately google “area of the earth” on my phone. Area of the earth as obtained from Google search is 510,072,000. When I pointed out the slight difference to him, he replied me, “OK.”)
DADDY: The value you obtained was just an approximation, but you are correct all the same.
WILLY: Thank you.
DADDY: Do you understand the implication of that figure. I mean the value of the area of the earth?
WILLY: Yes I do. It means that the surface area of the earth is very large. What else could it mean now?
DADDY: OK, let me finish my meal. I will explain what it means to you afterwards.
(No matter how delicious the food may taste, the feast must eventually come to an end, by and by. Retiring into my bedroom, I invited Willy to join me.)
DADDY: Wiiiiillly, come with a blank paper and biro!
WILLY: OK, I’m coming.
(Entering the room and using the floor tiles for illustrations, I proceeded to explain the concept of the area of an object. Proceeding, I explained how a square can have the same area as a rectangle, a circle or any other shape, regular or irregular.
DADDY: So Willy when you read that the surface area of the earth is 510,000,000 kilometers square, it means that if you can peel out the surface of the earth and lay the peels flat (like the peels you obtained from a skinned orange), the area you obtain will be the same as that of a square with a side approximately 22,583 kilometers long.
I now proceed to show him how to obtain this value mathematically.
DADDY: Do you understand?
DADDY: Are you sure.
WILLY: Yes. Daddy, that square must be very big o.
DADDY: Yes. And it is on this “super giant square” that all the cities and countries of the world are located. You think of places like our own Port Harcourt city, Lagos, New York; continents like Africa, North & South America, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as all the oceans…. They are located on this same area.
(Willy stared on, lost in thought for a few more seconds. Not yet through with me and as if not to be undone, he bombarded me with his second discovery of the day.)
WILLY: The area of Africa is 30,335,000 kilometer square.
DADDY: Where did you learn that?
WILLY: Also from the same geography book now.
DADDY: And you can still recall that number by heart?
DADDY: I am not very good at recalling numbers. Why not write it down on the paper for me?
(Willy wrote the figure for the area of Africa on paper and continued his recitation. Afterwards, we continue our discussions.)
DADDY: Can you express the area of Africa as a percentage of the surface area of the earth?
WILLY: Yes. I can.
DADDY: How will you do that?
WILLY: By dividing the area of Africa by the surface area of the earth and multiplying it by 100.
DADDY: Good. Show me.
(Willy now proceeded to do his calculation. He was correct. With excitement and pleasantly surprised, we did high fives with clenched fists. The excitement is still on. Try and quench it if you can.)
WILLY: Africa is approximately 6% of the whole earth by surface area.
DADDY: Do you understand what the answer, “Africa is approximately 6% of the earth surface” means?
(The young man continued to stare on in befuddled amazement, not very sure of himself.)
DADDY: OK, this is what it means…
(I now proceeded to sketch a rough meshed grid of 100 (10 X 10) squares on the paper and shaded six out of these squares.)
DADDY: If these 100 boxes represent the surface area of the earth, the 6 shaded squares represent our continent Africa. The remaining 94 unshaded squares represent the other continents, North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and all the oceans of the world – Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Mediterranean, Antartic and Arctic. Now looking at the squares, can you express the area of the earth as a ratio of our own continent Africa.
WILLY: By dividing 100 by 6.
DADDY: Stop, stop, stop. You are correct. Even if you don`t complete the answer, I am convinced that you know how to get there. So, I will score you 100%. Now proceed with the calculator app on my tab and do it. Make sure you hold it well so it doesn’t slip from your hand and get broken o. He now proceeded to start the RealCalc app.
DADDY: And that comes down to what value?
WILLY: OK. The answer is 16.7 (Approximately ratio 16.7 to 1)
DADDY: And do you understand what it means?
WILLY: (Again, staring on in silence, lost in thought … )
DADDY: It means that the total surface area of the earth is 16.7 times as large as the surface area of our continent Africa. It also means that when you multiply the surface area of Africa by 16.7 times, you will have the area of the earth. How many of Africa land area can you “extract” from the surface area of the earth? Approximately “16.7 Africas”
(Another round of high fives passed between the son and his dad. Mummy eventually joined us in the room peering over my shoulders to read my write-up.)
MUMMY: You still have not finished? It’s time for us to go to church o. Nobody must go late. We really don’t have any excuse for that. Do we?
DADDY: OK I’ve heard you. I am already finishing my first draft. I will tidy it up and complete the write-up when we get back home from the church.
I closed my Note 3 and Galaxy Tab S. Shortly afterwards, we all trouped to the church. The day ended beautifully and wonderfully well.
When it’s time for play, the young chap (along with his brother Mfon and their friend Emma) goes at it as if all is play to no end. Like every kid growing up in the age of Facebook & mobile games, many a time I have to pry him off his mum’s hand set to stop his binge playing of mobile games on the smartphone. But don’t be fooled, once he overcome his inertia, he attacks his studies with the same gusto as he does when at play. Many a time, you will finally find him asleep over his books or long at work on his pet project. His mum said the guy is just his dad in that area. A heart-warming compliment. I hope the young chap will filter out my foibles as he carry on.
On the match again.
We will rise again.
This blog post was originally written on the second day after I was let-off from work. Redundancy is what the company’s management gave as their reason. And as if to rub pepper and salt into the recently fresh “injury”, I, yes I made the mistake of mysteriously deleting the original blog post from my WordPress blog site. The synchronized versions in my OneNote went AWOL as well. The same disaster was replicated on the ColorNote I use on my two androids. Giving up was not an option. I had to recollect the original write-up as best as I could and recommence this writing immediately – this time resolving to do it the old hard faithful analog way. This afternoon, I was searching for a file on my android when the original draft for this blog miraculously re-surfaced. And O, what a sweet relief. Combining the analog with the electronic version, the post quickly came through in a breeze. All is well that ends well. All will still be well. All will still end well.
Originally written on 14-May-2015