The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Mar 10, 2017


It appears that J P Vaswani is still going strong, nearly a century after he was born. While he is known for his spiritual teachings, at one time his c.v. also included a line to the effect that he was the nephew of T L Vaswani, a boon companion of Mohandas Gandhi himself, and a founder of a mission. I was never clear on what that mission's mission was.

Back in Jakarta in the 80s he would visit our school frequently. As a Shukracharya for the kids, he would hold forth on a variety of topics for our moral instruction. We'd sit in the assembly hall, wilting with boredom, and listen to him go on about matters of the soul and supreme powers and the like. Once in a while he'd come out with an illustrative story or two. We rarely paid much attention.

One day he was talking about the immensity of God.

'Do you know osmium?' he said. 'It is the heaviest metal in the world.'

We stirred.

'It is so heavy,' he said, 'that you could not lift a spoonful of it.'

At this point half the class turned to look at me. I was no less than JP at throwing out random assertions.

I shook my head in teenage outrage.

'He is wrong,' I said through clenched teeth.

After the lesson, my classmates laughed at me.

'Come on, guys,' I said. 'Work it out.'

A spoon is about 15 millilitres. The density of osmium is 22.6 grammes / ml. So you have 339 grammes of osmium in a spoon.

I'm yet to find a person who can't lift 339 grammes.


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