Moments of zen in the scientific mundane

April 11, 2009

In analyzing the oil palm’s net potential for cellulosic ethanol production, I come across an interesting figure. In its 25-year lifespan, the oil palm produces 10,710 dry kilograms of fronds. When it is finally past its prime and its trunk is discarded, it weighs about 3068.

Even the trees are mostly transitional. More than three quarters of the mass it accrues in its lifetime is shed in less than a year. The trunk is only the channel, the highway, for this overflowing fountain of broadly bifurcated green lifestuff.

We are vessels at the center, and truth flows through us. We may try to bolster our permanence, but in vain. It is not us, but the things we shed, that define us.


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