It is amazing to me when I get a tiny glimpse of how children must view the world. I got one of these glimpses the other day when one of those random thoughts that floats around in my ten year-old’s head suddenly exploded out of his mouth.
He started spewing some kind of mumbo-jumbo that I surely would be impressed with if I knew anything at all about scientific stuff. This is what I got out of it:
He told me that there was some kind of puzzle that scientists have been trying to work out for hundreds of years. Let’s stop right there for a moment.
Hundreds of years?! They must’ve been some pretty tenacious scientists, because I think I would’ve given up after oh, say…twenty minutes. I can’t even get through a SUDOKU puzzle without my eyes sweating.
My son continued to yammer about the solution to this puzzle being the key to mapping the universe. If they were male scientists, I can see why this might have taken so long. A woman would’ve asked directions and had it down in about two weeks. Well, okay, this is the universe we’re talking about. Two months…tops.
Somewhere in his very, very, veeeerrrrryyyy long story, he said that part of the problem to solving the puzzle had to do with the fact that the scientists had to work with 268 dimensions. You know, I’m not real good with science. In fact, I’m really bad at it. But I’m aware of only three dimensions: Height, Width, and Depth and we could stretch it to four if we included Time, which I’m not all that aware of.
That makes four dimensions. Even if I accepted the fact that I might not know about a few of them given my complete lack of aptitude for science, I don’t think it would be that easy to squeeze 260 some-odd dimensions by me with me knowing it. So somewhere in this story there is a problem.
Now, I don’t want any scientific-type people e-mailing me after they read this column and making me feel like an idiot: “Mrs. Snyder, how do you manage to function?”
I may not know about all those dimensions, but that’s because I only use four of them. I would surely go insane trying to keep track of all my dimensions if I used a full set of them. I have enough trouble keeping track of my three-dimensional children. Lord help me if they came equipped with a couple hundred more.
My son’s ramblings continued until he reached a fevered pitch that included the words, “and they figured out the answer to the puzzle a couple weeks ago!”
Well, it’s about time! After spending what must’ve amounted to bazillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money over the last couple hundred years, they finally found some guy who wanted to work for a living and he spilled the beans on the big secret.
My son, in ecstatic joy, let out the last bit of his random thought of the moment on a beautific sigh, “Now they’re going to map the universe!”
I murmured, “That’s great,” my usual response to his flights of fancy.
My daughter, however, being all of nine years old, was duly impressed. “They’re gonna map the universe?!! Whoo-hoo!!”
Then after thinking about it a moment, she added wisely,…”but they’re gonna need a really, really big piece of paper.”