graphite | Of Mind and Money


Like a Diamond

Posted on June 20, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Physics of Poverty, Writing. 1 Comment

About 200 years ago it was discovered that diamond, like graphite, was made entirely of carbon. One brilliantly reflective, the other black; one hard, the other soft. How was it possible that two things with properties so contrasted could be made of the same thing? With this discovery came an extraordinary insight: what mattered was not the element itself, for the single carbon atom in isolation had no particular properties. What mattered was the bond structure.

So what does this mean? A chemical bond is simply a probability of how much time electrons from one atom spend hanging around in the space of another. In the case of the diamond the carbon atoms are strongly bonded to each of their four closest neighbours giving it the property of hardness. And so closely engaged are these atoms that when light energy enters … Read More »

Why ‘physics’?

Posted on April 2, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. 2 comments

Yesterday I was talking with some of my Board members and they asked ‘so what do you really mean by the physics of poverty?’ Why ‘physics’? So I thought I would do a summary post on what I mean by this.

Over the last century we have picked apart nature, broken it down into its smallest parts and found that everything is made of the same stuff. The same fundamental particles. How can a small bunch of particles give rise to all the richness of our world? These still not fully understood fundamental particles associate to form atoms which associate to form molecules which associate to form cells which associate to form organisms which associate to form societies. And on every level they produce a myriad of outcomes in matter, cells and organisms. As we are now … Read More »