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The Science of Diwali


The Diya: -


The simple clay diya with oil and cotton wick can be transformed into a mini-universe when we look at it through a scientific magnifying glass.


It represents everything we see around us. From black body radiation, gravity, Bernoulli's principle to thermodynamics etc, everything is on display around the small diya. A a simple thing like a diya encompasses wide scientific concepts, it will be interesting.


The force of adhesion is explained with the way the wick and oil interact. One molecule of the ground nut oil contains 56 carbon atoms, 104 hydrogen atoms and 6 oxygen atoms. The wick is made of cotton, which are strands of fibres. The cotton wick we dip in the groundnut oil in the lamp absorbs the oil due to the force of adhesion. The oil molecules stay together in the lamp because of the forces of cohesion. When we light the oil lamp, the oil is continuously supplied to the wick by the action of capillarity.


The oil in the diya rises against gravity. If you observe the lit oil lamp, you will observe the wick above the oil. How does the oil rise against the gravity? The adhesive force between the wick molecules is greater than cohesive forces between the oil molecules, as a result there is a pressure gradient created, which makes the liquid to rise against the gravity.


The five elements are also represented in the diya. Earth element is represented by the diya, oil and cotton wick. Fire is the light itself. Sky element is light around the flame, which is space around earth. Air is the oxygen diffused from air to wick and water is the H2O molecules formed at the combustion of oil.


So, when we light the oil lamp on Diwali, we symbolically represent the universe at our door step.





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