Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Spectrum
Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

‘Death doesn’t exist’ according to UB engineering professor

UB professor’s study of thermodynamics ties into his fascination with life and death

<p>A page from professor Cemal Basaran's textbook.</p>

A page from professor Cemal Basaran's textbook.

Atoms never fully disappear. Cemal Basaran, who works on thermodynamics and authored the 2020 textbook, “Introduction to Unified Mechanics Theory with Applications,” would know.

In nature, too, atoms circulate endlessly, facilitating the continuity of life and the cycle of rebirth. When an animal dies, Basaran explains that its atoms become plants, which are later eaten and absorbed by other animals.

“There is no death in nature, actually,” Basaran, a professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, said. “Death is a human definition which doesn’t exist. And I derived the mathematics behind it.”

These mathematics can be graphed on a four-dimensional coordinate system using x, y, z and time axes. Without all of these axes, nature cannot be defined.

“Everything in nature exists on a terrain of energy,” Basaran said. “Wherever you go, you will always be traveling here.”

Basaran sees the definition of this cycle of rebirth every morning while walking through the woodlands on his farm in Medina, a town 45 minutes away from North Campus. The farm consists of 100 acres of forest that grows walnut, cherry and maple trees, and 17 acres of crops, including corn, soy and wheat. The trees are harvested for lumber, which is then turned into furniture.

Farm life allows Basaran not only to view the continuity of life from the comforts of home but also to have peace and quiet away from the bustle of a busy city.

“If I were a professor at another university, it would be impossible to live on a farm,” Basaran said. “Like, I went to school in Boston, Massachusetts — a professor cannot afford to buy a farm that wouldn’t be outrageously expensive in driving distance. But here you can have a farm in driving distance.”

Basaran works full time on the farm Saturdays and Sundays. Occasionally, he has to leave campus for a crisis, like a fallen tree or illegal hunters who take advantage of the low fines for tracking wildlife on the farmland.

His wife also assists on the farm by gardening flowers, including black-eyed Susans, chrysanthemums and rose bushes. The rose bushes in particular honor their parents; the different varieties represent the personality of each parent in color and scent.

“I am happy that I live on a farm,” Basaran said.

Xiola Bagwell is a copy editor and can be reached at 



Xiola Bagwell is the managing editor of The Spectrum. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy/romance novels, watching lighthearted movies and spending time with her friends and family. Xiola is a linguistics major, minoring in Spanish. 



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Spectrum