Sunday, January 25, 2015

stardust

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Sometimes I like to tell my kids bedtimes stories. Here's a favorite.
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My dear children, I want to tell you a story about the Universe and stardust and about the unique creation of you.

Many years ago, before you were born and even years before your Dad and I fell in love,  I wanted to be an astronaut.  I wanted talk with the man in the moon and bounce between the stars.  I wanted sail in the Carina and search for the Golden Fleece, come face to face with comets and stardust.  I wanted float through space and marvel at the great vastness of the inky forever of the universe.  I fell in love with the stories the Universe tells.

When I was a kid, math didn't interest me.  Which is sad because math is the language of creation and space.  Math is how we've discovered what the Universe is made from.  Isn't that strange?  Numbers and symbols and formulas have opened the window to understanding space!  Do you ever wonder how scientists know what the sun is made from?  Especially when we can't visit and land on it's surface and take samples of its fiery heat?   I always wonder this.

There are many ideas explaining the beginning of the Universe but theidea I love most begins with an itty-bitty, hot, dense speck of pure energy.  Dense is a weird word but this simply means that this speck was extremely heavy.  Imagine all you see squished and smashed so small that it fits onto the tiny tip-top of your finger, this gives you and idea of what dense means.   This itty-bitty, hot, dense speck of pure energy was smaller than an atom which is even smaller than an invisible piece of dust floating around your room.

You know that time of night when I've kissed you, gotten you another drink, tucked you in bed and kissed you again?  That is the time of night you get most excited and you want to play and jump on the bed and bounce off the walls and giggle.  Well this is how the itty-bitty, hot, dense speck of pure energy felt.  It was so whirled up in a tizzy that it felt like exploding! And so it did.  There was once a famous scientist who explained it this way E=mc2. This just means that energy can turn into stuff and stuff can turn into energy.  This idea explains how all the planets and stars were made from one tiny speck of energy.  It is incredible, isn't it?

But the most incredible thing about this explosion is that you and I and all the things we see are made from similar explosions.  We are literally made from stardust!

When a star is young it burns bright and eats energy ferociously, just like when you come home from playing all day!  But, when a star is old and has used all its energy to shine it gives us one more gift; it creates a stupendous explosion and cooks atoms into all the elements.  These elements are simply the parts that everything is made from, like the blocks of your Legos.  The explosion starts out small but in nanoseconds it expands and as it expands it creates waves of elements like copper, zinc, iron, calcium and even gold!  Did you know that your body is made of these elements?  We are made from the dust of stars!

Aren't the stars grand and wonderful?  Next time we lay on the lawn during the late spring nights and tell the story of Orion eternally chasing the seven sisters, remember you are just as grand and unique and wonderful!  I love you.


6 comments:

  1. Best bedtime story!

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  2. I love you and I love this story. This is just what I needed to hear. Sometimes I feel like such a loser being the wife of an addict.thanks for reminding me that I'm made from Stardust!

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  3. Have I mentioned how AWESOME this is?!?!?!? :) Scabs, you rock.

    ReplyDelete

hi

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