Must Be The Youthful Genes

In April 2012, on a flight back from NYC, I was seated across the aisle from a woman from Nebraska. We started chatting and I learned (among other things) that she had a connecting flight to catch after our arrival in Minneapolis, whereas she found out it was my final stop.

As we were waiting to disembark, she asked, “Are you in school here?”

For some reason, the question did not register, and I must have been giving her a funny look because she asked it again another way. “Are you a student? In college?”

“Oh! College. No,” I said, unable to keep the grin from spreading across my face. “No, I’ve graduated. Awhile ago, actually.” The grin got wider and I chuckled a bit. “But it’s so nice of you to say that, to think I’m still in college!”

Confused, she tipped her head and regarded me curiously, like somehow I just wasn’t understanding her question. Before she could voice this, I jumped in to clarify. “It’s been fifteen years since I’ve been in college.”

I paused, waiting for her reaction. She didn’t disappoint, either, but we did end up going back and forth a few times until — shy of pulling out my ID — I had assured her it was the truth.

I never did catch her name, but thank you, lovely-woman-from-Nebraska, for making my day.

Mind-Blowing Facts About The Universe

One simply has to utter the words ‘science of the cosmos’ and I will stop what I’m doing to listen. There is just something so mystifying and beautiful about galaxies and stars and the Horsehead Nebula. Recently, one of my favorite Facebook pages posted a bunch of ‘mind-blowing facts’ about the universe, and I’ve selected a handful to share:

  • According to astronauts, space smells like seared steak, hot metal and welding fumes.
  • If you could compress the Earth down to the size of a marble, it would collapse in on itself and become a black hole.
  • 25,000,000 of your cells died while you read this sentence. It’s okay, though, your body made more than 300 billion new ones today.
  • If we had a sufficiently powerful/precise telescope and a large enough mirror perfectly placed 22 light-years away, we could watch the Apollo landings happen in real time next year.
  • If we are made of atoms, then a scientist studying atoms is actually a group of atoms studying themselves.
  • The Earth’s rotation is slowing at a rate of approximately 17 milliseconds a century, and the length of a day for the dinosaurs was closer to 22 hours.
  • The time difference between when Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus lived is greater than the time difference between Tyrannosaurus and now.
  • The 2011 earthquake in Japan shortened days on Earth by 1.8 microseconds.
  • 90% of your body mass is, in fact, stardust, because all the elements except hydrogen and helium are created in stars.
  • The entire internet is stored and delivered using 540 billion trillion electrons. Which, all together, weigh around 50 grams. Or about the weight of one strawberry.

And my favorite…

  • You have two eyes, each composed of 130 million photoreceptor cells. In each one of those cells, there are 100 trillion atoms (that’s more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy combined!). Each atom, in each cell, in each eye, formed in the core of a star billions of years ago, and yet here they are today, being utilized to capture the energy released from that same process — all to expand the consciousness that is you. The universe sure has interesting sense of irony: you are the universe experiencing itself.

Corollary:

“You are the universe, expressing itself as a human for a little while.” — Eckhart Tolle

Love that.

Source: I Fucking Love Science

Children Say The Darndest Things

After a recent production of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” at the Children’s Theatre Company, the small cast of three came back on stage to lead the audience (the majority of whom were children) in a spontaneous storytelling session.

“Once upon a time, at the — I need a place!” one of the women called out, then searched for a child in the audience to fill in the blank. As anticipated, lots of eager hands shot into the air and an answer was supplied in short order. This continued until we had collected the makings of a very compelling tale: there was a statue named Bob who played all day near the Great Wall of China. One day, he met a princess and they got married.

Because, you know, that’s what princesses and statues do.

Then the woman moved on to the next segment of the story, announcing, “So Bob and the princess got married. Then what happened?” As she scanned the audience, a young boy in the front row (maybe 5 years old) kneeled up on his chair and waved his hand around. She smiled and pointed to him. “Yes?” she asked.

“They got divorced!” he shouted.

The entire theatre seemed to gasp collectively for a fraction of a second, then erupted into one of those lingering waves of laughter where you aren’t sure whether everyone’s horrified or merely applauding the kid’s comedic timing.

I’m pretty sure I saw the man sitting next to him (I can only presume his dad) desperately trying to sink into his seat, perhaps hoping if he slid down far enough, the Earth would kindly oblige and swallow him whole.