A car covered in what? – pollen everywhere 

For people who know me; I don’t wash my car. The exterior does not concern me too much; so it is what it is. But today, I waked out and saw every car on the street covered completely in a little dust storm that just passed by. 

I started noticing this on every single car parked in the street and in fact the entire neighborhood. I am talking about a very large area; and almost every surface is covered with a very fine “yellow golden” dust. That’s my first hint. 

I have never seen this much pollen in my life. No wonder people develop allergy to this stuff; it’s kind of everywhere.

So, to solve the identity of this mystery pollen; I did pull out my Foldscope and was reward by the most simplest answer. Yes, this entire coat of yellow material on every car, in fact is pollen. Take a look.. 

I am curious about why they cluster together with such a specific wavelength. I know some charge effects might be at play; but this is too regular. 

Now, curiously – although many things are flowering right now – I can not identify where this is obviously coming from. I found one tree high up; most likely not spraying everything. My hunch is that this could be something like large pine trees around; but again – it’s just a hunch. 

I want to leave you with a sense of wonder, and a mathematical back of the envelop calculation. Imagine covering the entire surface area of the car with an object that is 20unx20um in cross section area – how many pollen grains are we talking about. Now multiply that by every car that’s around in my area. My intuition tells me – that’s going to be billions of pollen (please try the calculation and leave a comment below) and it gives us a sense of scale that biology operates. 

Happy pollen day. 


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cristina says:

    Mr. Prakash, it’s such an incredible amount! The average surface area of a car is six square meters. Taking that data into account, it makes a hundred and fifty thousand million pollen grains covering one car!!!! Only seven cars to have one billion pollen grains !!!
    Not to imagine roofs, pavement, … Nature makes me speechless…. Did you find air bladders in your pollen grains?

  2. laksiyer says:

    @MAnu, thats nuts. You may be right about it being pine.

    One of the things I wanted to do in the pollen hunter project was the reimage many of htem with reflected light. Opaque pollen are quite common. Hopefully, I shall have a mini army helping me this time.

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