Monday, May 05, 2014

Divine Intervention and my Feynman moments

We reached our home after a 4 day vacation.  On entering the house, I noticed the staircase light was on.  I do not remember leaving it on when we left.  I remember it was off.  In fact, it was off for the past 3 months are so.  Who switched it on or who replaced the bulb?

Some people prefer to leave couple of lights on when they lock the door on a long vacation.  The hope is, it gives an impression that there's someone home to dissuade potential thieves from getting adventurous.  I'm not that kind.  And I live in the middle of everywhere that it is hard for a thief to enter our house without about 10 people and two dogs noticing.  Why thief, it is hard for even a postman to find our house to deliver letters.

Coming back to the mysterious light, we have ways to interpret it.  A romantic view is - there is a presiding deity of our house that takes care of us and the house.  I, just don't believe in it, but have felt and value it.  But even presiding deities need to play within the laws of Physics for their divine intervention.

The second view is that of rationality.  The armchair Physicist that I'm, must be able to explain it with the laws of Physics I know.  And here is the explanation:

There was obviously a loose contact in the staircase light circuit.  During winter the wires must have contracted a bit and left the circuit disconnected that even if the switch is on, the circuit is open.  With the onset of summer, the wires must be expanding a bit, but not enough to close the circuit.  When we are at home, there is enough ventilation that the ambient temperature stays below a threshold. We keep the doors and windows open when it is not too hot, to let nature cool the place.  Remember, I'm an armchair physicist.  When the house was locked, this ventilation didn't happen.  The temperature rose beyond the threshold that caused the wires to expand just enough to close the circuit.  That's a good enough explanation for me.

Now, you may not call this divine intervention.  So, be it.  But please note the temperature didn't raise further to short circuit the entire network?  I would call that too - a divine intervention.

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