*

the 2015, the ‘Loco’-motivated year

I had a chance to see a marvelous scientific TV program of BBC presented by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. I was impressed by his explanation on thermodynamics and I regretted so much not having studied physics and science in university… How I wish I could become a scientist!!!

The world's largest triple expansion steam pumping engine still in operation, at Kempton Park Steam Museum, London Photo by
The world’s largest triple expansion steam pumping engine still in operation, at Kempton Park Steam Museum, London
Photo by Anguskirk

 

Professor Jim Al-Khalili explained the history of revolutions of “energy”, which was started by the invention of steam engine. In other words, the discovery of the way to transfer the energy of steam to various usage.

Thanks for the steam engine, needless to say, people learned to use the power without using their own muscle.

 

When it comes to steam engine, a steam locomotive pops up in my mind. Last year, I saw a real and moving steam locomotive for the first time in my life. I bought a ticket and got on. I took a steam locomotive not to go somewhere but to feel and experience the ride!

Photo by Navis Argenti
Photo by Navis Argenti

 

It was much noisier, much slower and shook more than I had expected… Maybe I was spoiled too much by Shinkansen. But I felt the power, the power itself, the power that moved the train… Shinkansen, on the other hand, runs so fast and so smoothly that I sometimes forget that I am on a train.

Shinkansen 500 series Photo from Hatena foto life, amesuke's foto life
Shinkansen 500 series
Photo from Hatena foto life, amesuke’s foto life

 

What I liked the most about a steam locomotive was the firebox where the fire that boiled the water to make the steam was burning.

A man put coals to make the fire!  Photo by Navis Argenti
A man throws coals into the box to make the fire!
Photo by Navis Argenti

 

I couldn't take a close picture of firebox so I used the photo taken by Mr. Gerald Byrnes
I couldn’t take a close picture of firebox, so I used the photo taken by Mr. Gerald Byrnes

 

The theory of the steam engine is based on the law of the nature that the heat flows from high temperature to low temperature. I imagine that the fire is what many people are reminded of, even those who don’t have so much knowledge on science, as the fundamental source of the heat. So, using fire to create the heat is very easy to imagine, which is easier than electricity and far easier than the movement of atoms, which we can never see with our own eyes. I liked to see and to feel how a steam locomotive moves, maybe because I was able to get a feel for real life, which is hardly to experience in modern world of super high-technology.

If you have read my past article, “Is This a Trap of Convenience or What?”, you could imagine that I feel scared about the very convenient life that we are spending. I am not naturalist or nostalgist. But I’m just scared to rely on what I cannot understand, what I cannot see, or what I cannot feel.

On the other hand, even the negative aspects of steam engine are so obvious.
-High quantity of fly ash.
-High quantity of carbon dioxide .

steam locomotive that spills white steam Photo by Navis Argenti
steam locomotive that spills white steam
Photo by Navis Argenti

 

When it needs power, the smoke becomes very black with fly ash Photo by Navis Argenti
When it needs power, the smoke becomes very black with fly ash
Photo by Navis Argenti

 

By the way, according to Seikei Meteorological Observatory in Tokyo, the number of days when Mt. Fuji was observable from this observatory was 139 days in 2014, which was the largest in 50 years. In 1965, there were only 22 days when people were able to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo. This means that the sky in Tokyo has become much cleaner and clearer.

Even though I love steam locomotives and I’m planning to go on as many trips as possible just to take steam locomotives this year, I would not say it loud that “WE NEED TO GO BACK TO STEAM ERA!” But, for sure, it is easier to stop if the bad influence of something is so apparent. At least, there will be no room for lies.

 

View of Tokyo from the 60th floor observatory of Sunshine City, Ikebukuro. The silhouette of Mt. Fuji is on the right. Photo by Justin C.
View of Tokyo from the 60th floor observatory of Sunshine City, Ikebukuro. The silhouette of Mt. Fuji is on the right.
Photo by Justin C.

 

 

S=klogW

 

This is the mathematical formulation of entropy developed by Dr. Ludwig Boltzmann. Entropy is a measure of “disorder”, which I learned from the TV program of BBC presented by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili that I’ve mentioned at the beginning. The title of the program was “Order to Disorder“. Prof. Jim Al-Khalili showed the absolute law that could apply everything in universe. With the passage of time, everything goes from order to disorder. Thus, universe is getting always messier, and disorder is the fate of everything that exists in universe.

I had thought that human beings were on the way of betterment with the inventions of technology and experiences. But… We cannot deny that we see messes and disorders everywhere. In fact, there are so many people who call the past as “good old days”. This maybe because human nature is also an object to the law of “Order to disorder”… The arrow of time shows a tendency of time to move from order to disorder.

The 2015, a new year, will definitely be messier than 2014 if we think of the entropy law. But, I would like to enjoy the disorder of the world with “loco” motivated mind!

 

I would need as many coals as possible for 2015!  Watch out for my fly ash!!  Photo by Navis Argenti
I would need as many coals as possible for 2015! Watch out for my fly ash!!
Photo by Navis Argenti

 
*All the photos of a steam locomotive were of Chichibu Paleo Express, taken in Chichibu, Saitama, within 2 hours drive from Tokyo!

 

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Comment

  1. Hilary より:

    Hi Rei! I have resurrected myself in a sense. How are you? First, apologies for disappearing. Second, how interesting about Tokyo’s air becoming cleaner! That was the biggest surprise for me as I still think it looks pretty hazy. Third, I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. The link reveals why I nominated you, the award rules and how to accept. Congrats and Happy Blogging! (And I will be emailing you soon!) http://japancanmix.com/2015/02/03/liebster-award-acceptance-and-nominations/

  2. rei_saionji より:

    Hi, Hilary!! How nice it is hearing from you!!!
    Wow!!! Thank you for having nominated for the Liebster Award!!!
    Yeah! You should email me soon ~~~ hahaha.

  3. Hilary より:

    And I still have not emailed you. I’ve sent you countless mind messages though. Can’t you just move to Canada? ;P

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