Class 11 | The Magic of Words
The Six Million Dollar Man
Writer: Harold J. Morowitz
Dr Harold J Morowita is a professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is a scientist, teacher, and author. ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ is a popular essay in which Morowitz examines the statistical statement that the chemical value of the human body is only 97 cents. He spends his essay in refining and improving the statement and tries to arrive at a more accurate definition at the end.
From a biochemical catalogue, he collects the information about the price of ingredients that the human body is made of. Then he calculates the average value of a gram dry weight of human being and his own dry weight. When he multiplies both, he finds his price, i.e. Six million dollar. But soon he realizes that each human being is priceless and infinitely precious. He concludes his essay with Alfred North Whiteheads conclusion that “ the human body is an instrument for the production at art in the life of the human soul.”
The author received a humorous birthday and from his daughter and son-in-law with a caption “ According to BIOCHEMISTS the materials that make up the HUMAN BODY are only worth 190 cents.” The definition compelled him to make a thorough study of the entire matter. He started by sitting down with his catalogue from a biochemical company and began to list the ingredients and their prices. His biochemical value was 97c when he was paying for the informally poorest form of cool, air, water, lime, bulk iron, etc. but in the six million dollar figure, he was paying for his atoms in the highest informational state in which they are commercially available.
It can be done for less than six thousand trillion dollars. But we cannot evaluate human life in a biochemical point of view. An incubator can develop micro-organisms artificially but it cannot assemble the cells into tissues, tissues into organs, and organs into a person, fill it with life and make a human being.
Thus, each human being is priceless and infinitely precious. We cannot evaluate a person’s life in terms of money. Rationality and humanity are the characteristics of human being. It can produce anything. Alfred North Whitehead is true that “ The human body is an instrument for the production of art in the life of the human soul.
Morowitz shifts his subject. He starts out talking about the human body and ends up talking about the human being. The human body and human being different from each other. The human body is made up of chemical organism but a man becomes a human being because of consciousness, rationality and some indispensable human qualities.
Important Questions & Answers:
1. Why did the writer say he was a six Million Dollar Man?
Explain the meaning of the title “The Six Million Dollar” as used by Harold J. Morowitz What pleasure does the author feel in making this discovery?
How does the writer come to the conclusion that each human being is priceless?
Ans: Once, the writer received a birthday card sent by his daughter and son-in-law. In that card, it was mentioned that the price of the human body is only 97 cents. Later he gets a price list of all the parts of the body from a biochemical company. He concludes that the value of the dry human body is $ 245.54 per gram. The weight of the writer’s dry body is 244436 grams. He multiplies it and finds the total value of his body $ 6,000,015.44.So he calls himself a six Million Dollar man.
2. How does the writer come to the conclusion that each human being is priceless?
Ans: The title of the essay implies that the human being is very expensive. The writer did not believe that the price of chemicals that made up the human body would be 97 cents only. Later he gets a price list of all the parts of the body from a biochemical company. He concludes that the value of the dry human body is $ 245.54 per gram. The weight of the writer’s dry body is 244436 grams. He multiplies it and finds the total value of his body $ 6,000,015.44. When he discovered this, he felt his ego to have been enormously upgraded.
3. Explain Harold J. Morowitz’s Joy in discovering that he is a six million dollar man.
Ans: The writer Harold J. Morowitz received a birthday greeting card sent by his daughter and son in- law. On it, he finds the statement “According to biochemists, the materials that make up the human body are worth 97 cents. This statement shows that the human body is very cheap. Then he visits a biochemist and takes a price list of all the human body. The weight of the writer’s dry body is 2444.36 grams. He multiplies it and finds the total value of his body $ 6,000,015.44. So he calls himself a six Million Dollar man. After doing this, he calculates prices of cells, tissues, souls, etc. then he finds a man valuable or priceless. He concludes that the price of human body can’t be measured in terms of the dollar. The human body is endlessly valuable.
Some Important Questions For Practice:
1)In “The Six Million Dollar Man” the writer shifts his subject. He starts out talking about the human body and ends up talking about the human being. Do you agree, or do you think the author’s subject remains the same all the way through?
2)Describe the author’s joy in discovering that he is a Six Million Dollar Man, and write a few sentences about the tone of the essay.