Skip to main content

It Starts with a Spark

How much power is in a spark?


There are many, many things that you can Google and get the answer you need within seconds, but I had to do a ridiculous amount of searching and math to get a halfway respectable answer to this question. But let's err on the high end and say that a particularly large and hot steel spark can represent up to 11 joules of energy. It just so happens that 11 joules could power an energy-efficient 10 watt LED light bulb (a typical lamp) for just over 1 second, if I did my math correctly.* There's nothing terribly powerful about turning on a lamp for 1 second. Not much can be done in the darkness with 1 second of lamp light.

But in 2018, a rancher in California hammering a metal stake struck a single blow that produced a single spark that ignited a patch of grass that spread to a tree that spread to a forest and became the largest wildfire in California history. By the end, this fire had burned for over 100 days and covered 640 square miles. And (here's where the math gets really crazy**) that much fire, burning that many trees, produced enough energy - if it could have been somehow harnessed and stored - to power the United States for 6 days. Or the entire globe for 26 hours.

It started with a spark.

You see, while a spark in and of itself is not powerful, a spark can ignite and unlock energy stored within something else. That ignition, given the right conditions and unlocking the right potential, can quite literally change the world.

Here's another story. In 2016 a man named Steve Spear came and spoke at my local church, and shared the story of his involvement with World Vision. How it had changed his life and touched others. (Steve once ran from the west coast to the east coast of the US, but that's another story.) At the end of his talk, Steve invited the audience to sign up to run a marathon. I eventually, with some coaxing, agreed. Steve was my spark. That year I finished the Chicago marathon and raised enough money to bring clean water to over 150 people. The next year I ran again, this time with my wife and my sister, Tracy. The next year Tracy ran two more marathons! And now two of Tracy's kids are running too. Over the past 3-4 years, our family has had a net impact of over $37,000 raised for World Vision in donations and sponsorships.

It started with a spark.

Have you ever been someone's spark? It's a powerful thing to ignite inspiration and energy in another. Sometimes it is impossible to know what impact a spark has had or will have. But one of the cool things about sponsoring a child through World Vision is that you get to maintain a relationship with the child whose life you are changing. You get an opportunity to witness firsthand the spark that lights the tinder that heats the embers that feed the flame in another. There is so much potential, so much stored energy that needs only a spark. A spark can give hope. A spark can unlock a promising future.

And lets be honest - I need a spark from time to time too. It's your action that keeps me running. I'm just here to ask the question...
Will you be someone's spark?
Click here to Sponsor a Child, to start down that path and learn more about child sponsorship.

Or visit my sister Tracy's page to be a spark for her today.



-----------------------------------

* If you're feeling really nerdy, here's my math:Carbon steel has a density of up to 8050 kg / cu m
1 cu mm of carbon steel would have a mass of .00805 g
Carbon steel has a specific heat capacity (energy required to heat it) of .502416 J / g-deg C
A particulate spark may reach up to 5000 deg F, or 2760 deg C
0.00805*0.502416*2760 = a 1 cu mm spark of carbon steel may have 11 J of energy
11 J = .00305556 W/hr, or 11 W/s
SO a 10 W bulb could be powered for 1.1 s

** I left this math to the pros, ripping off a calculation from this site:  
http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2017/ph240/timcheck1/
The Ranch fire burned 410,203 acres, or 166,003 hectares
According to the site above, a fire burning that area would potentially produce 232,404,200,000,000,000 J, or 64,556,722,222 kwh
The US consumes an estimated 3,911,000,000,000 kwh/yr
SO the energy from the Ranch wildfire could power the US for 6.02 days or 144.60 hrs
The entire world consumes an estimated 21,776,088,770,300 kwh/yr
SO the energy from the Ranch wildfire could power the world for 1.08 days or 25.97 hrs

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bruised Not Beaten: A Berlin Retrospective

Just over a year ago, my sister Tracy ( @running4twv ) and I announced our entry into the 2019 Berlin Marathon. And last Sunday marked the 6 month anniversary of the race itself. It seems somehow impossibly distant and remarkably recent at the same time. And, aside from writing a letter to my supporters at the end of the year, I have really taken very little time to reflect on the experience. Probably to an unhealthy degree. Because if I'm honest with myself, Berlin nearly got the best of me. That's hard for me to grapple with. I had a great training season. The Summer was mild, I wasn't really pushing for a pace goal - instead I was really enjoying running with friends and family. And yet, my long runs continued to improve and I was feeling great! For the first time since I started running, I got into the rhythm of hitting negative splits, sometimes managing to put in a final 2-3 miles that would get me winded in a 10k. I found that I really enjoyed the feeling of kee

My Battle Cry

In July 2017 I wrote my last post about running . I wrote of Goals and of Cost, of Declaration and Revolution. In the intervening months I carried a 40 lb jerrycan of water through the Global 6k for Water in Chicago. I trained for and ran my second Chicago Marathon, propelled onward by an overwhelming crowd of supporters. I welcomed my wife across her first marathon finish line, followed by my sister Tracy. But most importantly, with your help we raised over $10,000 for clean water - that's over 200 lives changed forever by a humble gift of $50, to bring them access to a clean, fresh well and end the cycle of hauling surface water carrying parasites and disease and risk of death. Those 200 lives were well worth every mile. But there's more to fight for. Then came a season of recovery. Many of you haven't heard from me for over a year, because I didn't run a Marathon last year. But that doesn't mean I stopped moving. During the cool early months of 2018, I m

Why Child Sponsorship?

It's probably fairly safe to say that if you've gotten so far as to open my blog, you likely have an idea of why Child Sponsorship is important. You may know some of the facts, or you're just generally aware of the vast disparities in quality of life around the globe.  You may even have some internal gnawing that nudges you toward action. If that's the case, then I don't need to tell you the statistics and logistics of Child Sponsorship . I don't need to tell you why you  should sponsor a child. What I do feel an need to share is why my family  has chosen to sponsor children. I make this distinction because Child Sponsorship is a commitment that people often enter into for very personal and important reasons. Though the what  and the how  are similar, the why  is unique to you. And to us. At the core, my wife and I sponsor two little boys, Victor and Omar, because we couldn't justify reserving the blessings in our lives for ourselves.  When