Math and Mass
There are so many things to know. When I begin to think of the things I don’t know, actually making a list in my head, it goes on forever. And it’s impossible to finish the list not just because of the number of things I don’t know, but because I don’t know most of the things I don’t know, I can’t even add them to the list.
Here’s an example. Today I went to the pool hoping to swim awhile. But I didn’t know they had a class on at the time I decided to arrive, Ladies Aqua Fit.
It’s not the end of the world. It’s a large pool. And there are about thirty, forty, large, huge, and not so large ladies in there. I’m not being sexist or fatist here. I’ve got weight problems of my own. And they don’t take up the whole pool, these ladies, because on the other side there are lanes for those few of us who have got it wrong and turned up hoping for some kind of relaxation or quiet exercise.
We’re not going to relax because the instructor for Ladies Aqua Fit has a microphone strapped to her mouth and she’s supported by a machine that spits out a medley of pop tunes which ricochet around the tiled walls of the hall like a colony of ambushed monkeys. Plus the instructor is going through the motions on dry land, showing the ladies what she wants them to do in the water, which is making her breathless, which in turn makes her shout into her microphone, adding enormously to the general cacophony. Some of the ladies are singing along as well, obviously here to have a good time. The designers of swimming pools need to know this stuff.
We’re all there for an hour. A couple of times I stop and sit in the jacuzzi or the sauna (which is slightly insulated against the acoustic) but the women keep at it for an hour. I reckon I burn about 300 calories, plus the women collectively, if there are thirty-five of them at, say, 500 calories each, will burn something in the region of 17,500 calories. With four or five other brave souls like me the total calories burned in that pool during that hour is around 20,000 calories.
Now, this is what I don’t know. Calories burned are fat lost, right? I can see and experience a lot of turbulence in the water, sometimes it gets really choppy in there, pushing me over to the wrong side of the lane, putting me on a collision course with a superbly mustachioed ex-policeman doing a rather eccentric and dangerous karate-butterfly stroke. He glares at me as if I’m a motorist.
But the water doesn’t get hot from the energy burned. The fat doesn’t dissolve and increase the level of the water. What happens to the energy? What happens to the fat? Is it still there, somehow, invisible, lurking in the atmosphere of the hall as the other swimmers, the ladies and I all drag ourselves to the showers and the coffee looking as though we are perfectly normal?