Small Talk

Ah, to be young and a physicist

I have this recurring nightmare that I am taking calculus in college and can’t begin to understand it. Having jettisoned my math efforts at Algebra II, this is reasonably terrifying. And it is why I will have to wait until my next life to have mad math and science skills and not be intimidated by beakers, formulas or theorems.
In the meantime, I offer great gratitude to the likes of Stephen Hawking. Hawking is amazing in so many ways, but what I love best is his willingness to launch from theoretical physicist into science-based whimsy and speculation.
He is comfortable imagining what just might be, if the right combination of scientific realities came together. I was glued to the TV during his “Universe” program, in awe over the animated visions of what creatures might grow and thrive on planets with different atmospheric make-ups.
A fabulous sense of wonder like that just knocks me out, especially in a scientist. Hawking has even dipped into science fiction, with his daughter Lucy, creating the children’s books “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” and a sequel, “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt.” Hawking’s a world-famous scientist who’s a doting dad and storyteller, too. How cool is that?
I love anyone who can be solidly based in facts and still have a mind so open that it gives a nod to the absolute possibility of other living things in our so very vast universe. I adore that he came up with creatures that dine by sucking minerals from the dry ground or ones that evolve in a world of freezing liquid nitrogen. The floating beings on the gas-based planets were perhaps my favorites.
His attitude backs my support of space exploration. It is absolutely the only thing that makes me want to live to 150. Maybe, just maybe if we get out there far enough, we will bump into some of our cosmic neighbors, and won’t that be extraordinary?
I have always believed we Earthlings would really benefit from a peaceful encounter of the third kind. I think it would put things into perspective and bring a lot of us down off our high horses.
It’s enough to make me go back and take chemistry… almost.