The Sun Beam
– Dr. Neeraja Raghavan
It grew darker as the butterfly flew into the thick forest, for the tall and leafy trees, formed a canopy above the ground, and there were only a few brightly lit spots. The fresh smell of the leaves and the crackle of the wind as it blew through the trees made the butterfly feel like humming a song.
Whom should it talk to here? Oh, what was that? Abroad shaft of sunlight came slanting down through the branches of the tree.
The butterfly could see lots of tiny particles dancing inside the beam. They looked happy.
“Hello, sunbeam! Whom are you bringing dancing down?” asked the butterfly to the sunbeam.
“Why, I simply move along without bringing or taking anybody. What you see are dancing dust particles. They are everywhere. It is just that you can’t see them unless there is a beam like me,” the sunbeam answered in a matter-of-fact tone.
”But what makes them dance? Why can’t they be still?” asked the butterfly.
The entire universe is one big dance. What looks still may not really be so. Do you think the rocks are still just because you can’t see them move?
There are dancing atoms and whirling particles inside them which never stop moving. These dust particles are visible to the eye because they are large. But the world is incredibly vibrant. Not all know this, because they can’t see the movement.”
“Does that mean that there are dancing atoms in that solid rock over there which looks so heavy and still?” asked the butterfly, puzzled.
“Indeed, there are dancing atoms inside all matter. The entire universe is made up of atoms and molecules which have in them constantly whirling particles. In that sense, nothing is static. The very earth that you live on is whirling through space and spinning on its own axis. Planets in outer space are revolving continuously around the sun. Everything is charged with energy,” said the sunbeam. Looking at the sunbeam, that was not at all difficult for the butterfly to imagine.
“But what makes these planets and atoms move? How come they never get tired
and stop moving?” asked the butterfly.
“The energy of the cosmos is eternal, and
can never be destroyed. It is this energy which goes into making me so bright, and it is this energy which, in a different form, allows atoms to remain in motion in that rock,” said the sunbeam.
“That means energy takes different forms,” said the butterfly, thinking hard.
“Yes, energy takes many, many forms. It is light energy that allows you to see things, and causes things to shine. It is the heat energy that warms you up. The energy of a fast-flowing river can be used to make yet another form of energy -electricity. But the sum total of all the energy in the universe is constant. It cannot be made more, it cannot be made less. It has always stayed the same, and it will always remain the same. Now do you see that everything has to be linked to everything else?
For all events that happen in the universe require energy, and there is a fixed amount of energy in the universe. Somebody has to give, for the other to take. If you fold your wings, you use energy from the same source that I draw upon to shine!” The butterfly was silent. It seemed that the entire universe was dancing in step with itself! Surely,the dance of the atoms in the rock was connected in some way to the flight of the butterfly? The butterfly began to feel more and more a part of what was around it.