Failure and success of physics and biology…a leadership message

Was biology waiting for the failure/anomalous behaviour of physics to happen? The success story of diversity and multitude of life of flora and fauna in marine world tells nothing but only about the failure/anomalous behaviour physics. Only because of such failure, biology could exist in some parts of marine world. Definitely the above story is true at least in polar (Arctic and Antarctic) region and regions where the water in the sea freeze during winter.


When compared to most liquids, the water behaves differently when it is cooled or heated. Whenever a liquid is cooled, its density increases. The molecules come together when they are cooled, the intra molecular space reduces and hence the density increases. The frozen portion of any given liquid sinks to the bottom of the given liquid and never floats on the surface.


However water behaves differently. When water is cooled, instead of its density increases, it decreases and expands. As a result of its expansion, the frozen water i.e., ice float on the surface of water. As per the thumb rule of physics, the solid state of water must sinks to the bottom instead of floating.   Such expansion of water upon freezing is only due to the unique chemical structure of water. The expansion of water upon freezing happens due to crystallization of molecules into an open hexagonal form. This hexagonal lattice contains more space than the liquid state of water.


Imagine, if the fundamental concept of physics has not failed in the case of water, the entire water in the ocean would freeze during winter. In such frozen water, no life can happen or live especially during winter.   Because of the expansion of water during freezing due to the decreased density , the frozen water – ice, floats, whereas the liquid state of water underneath remain unaffected and supports the multitude of life and their diverse adaptations.


The question of was biology waiting for the failure of physics or physics failed in the case of water, only to support biology, may be difficult to answer.   The message for the corporate leaders is that one has to deviate from the fixed norms or must sometime agree to fail consciously in order to ensure success of many.


Winning always does not mean winning for oneself, but by allowing others to win is also winning, in real sense. In order to achieve the above, sometime one may have to behave differently by defeating all standard norms and dictums like how water looses its density and become light weight upon freezing.   Such change of property of water only makes the water unique and the most essential component of life on earth.


To become most valuable, much needed, essential and inevitable, one has to be unique and such uniqueness also must support and favour others to live and grow.   The corporate leaders must learn this essential leadership quality from the abnormal property of water.


Dr S Ranganathan, ClinRise Derma Pvt., Ltd., Chennai

Desire, Dream and Destination – Social Entrepreneur Forum        


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