Saturday, March 31, 2012

Science for Dummies - Part II

“Just think about it Meena.  14 billion years ago, we were all inside a hydrogen atom.  You, me and this entire Universe” my husband told me yesterday in one of his I am-getting-goose bumps-over-science moments.  Try as I might, I simply can’t get goose bumps over hydrogen atoms.  Or even over carbon atoms or hydrocarbons or intermolecular bonds.  I am so ashamed.

We had just come back from watching a movie and were engaged in some light post-movie conversation.  ‘Don’t you think that the popcorn was too salty?’, ‘Theater drinks are harsh on my bladder, you know?’, ‘Did you see that woman with a week old baby sitting in the front row? -  that kind of light post-movie conversation.  One topic led to another and somehow I found myself yet again in the middle of an atomic subject.  

“Oh Sankar, you know that I think of nothing else on most days.  Explosion of that hydrogen atom on that fateful day billion years ago is the only thought that keeps me breathing” I replied with a solemn face.  I don’t know why I waste my sarcasm on him because he flicked it off as usual with a smile and continued “Just imagine Meena…if that atom hadn’t exploded, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”  

Grave thought indeed!  If I believed for an instant that I could redeem myself for all these years of pleading ignorance in science, I would petition the UN this minute to build a Shrine in honor of that hydrogen atom.  Do you think it is too much?  A little over the top, may be?  With respect, I disagree.  

If Kollywood  actress Kushbu merits a temple in South India, why can’t this tiny hydrogen atom get a Shrine someplace where people like my husband can go on a personal Mecca each year and prostrate in gratitude?  But as I didn’t see redemption on the cards for me, I didn’t bother with the petition and only said “Not a single day goes by when I don’t offer my thanks to Great God Ganapathy for getting that atom to explode Sankar.”   Of course I meant it.  

As soon as our kids grew up enough to start walking (more like dawdling) on their own chubby little feet, my husband decided that it was time to introduce them to the fascinating world of Science.  He got us renewable annual family membership to a Science Museum and Planetarium in the city.  This place later became a second home to us.  

Every Saturday we would get in the car and go to this Science Museum.  The minute we entered the Museum, I would, by an unwritten rule of the land, assume charge of strollers, diaper bags, picnic lunch bags etc. while my husband would take charge of holding the chubby hands of the kids and walking them from exhibit to exhibit all the while explaining some scientific mumbo jumbo to them with great enthusiasm.  I have crystal clear memories of pushing a stroller full of bulging bags around the many pathways of that Museum making quick, mental notes of emergency exits and restroom locations.  If you think stroller pushing is easy, you should try navigating it inside their atom sized restrooms.  Then, you’ll know.  

Like clockwork, every half hour I would whine about him making me walk too much and we would all wander into an auditorium to sit and watch educational movies on scientific topics.  I clearly remember a show about a bunch of funny-looking carbon atoms that hang out with their buddies, nitrogen and hydrogen atoms, and do some gymnastic stuff together to form long chains.  It was totally weird but looking at the ecstasy on my husband’s face, you wouldn’t think so.

I can’t be 100% sure about it as my memory is not as good as it used to be (???!!!), but my firstborn’s first words in this world could very well have included ‘atom’ and ‘matter’.  But I am positive that she said ‘amma’ first.   At least I think she did.


Anonymous said...

Shankar, Science ai pathi pesi Kolrele. You know something, at one point the negative motivation of science and maths brought out the lyrical potential in us - Meena and me; we ended up(if I remember right, on one one of those gloomy days in pre midterm week)penning lyrics for the good old Tamil ditty "Engirundaalum vaazhga"

To share with readers of this blog, our lyrical brilliance, even in our adolescence:
"Science, Maths, History book ellam
Enakku kodukkum parisu thalaivali.
Udal nalam kedukkum vishamum neeye
ennai kolvadum eno?
eno? eno?
Engirundalum vaazhga,
Un pakkangal amaidiyil vaazhga
Pudumai karukkudan vaazhga.
Un thooya pudu manam vaazhga,
vaazhga, vaazhga"
Well, guys, Meena showed promise even then of her writing abilities. Right, aren't I?

நாகு (Nagu) said...

Meena and Krithika,

I think creativity and a good dose of anti-science/math must be built in your genes. :-)

A shrine for the exploding atom is very very interesting idea. I nominate Sheldon Cooper to be the Pradhama Poojari of the temple. But we still need Kushbu Shrines though. Can't live without those. Come to think of it, why no shrines to St.Silukku yet?

Back in Pilani, the Saraswati Mandir is lined with busts of scientists and famous people in the outer wall. The exploding atom will be very fitting there.

Prashanti said...

Add math to the equation too!(I crack myself up!) I recently heard a song in the lines of what Krithika posted. Remember 'Paadariyen...Padipariyen'? Read 'Sin ariyen Cos ariyen Trignometry thaan ariyen...
Square ariyen Cube ariyen Algebravum naan ariyen...
Pusthagam vangaville notes edhutu pazhakkam ille...
Logarithm puriyaville...Binomial um theriyaville...'

Meena Sankaran said...

@ Krithika - God, I remember having tons of fun rewriting the lyrics of this song. Isn't it just like us to unwisely (in hindsight :-) )use the time to study to sit outside, gaze at the stars in melancholy and write this song? ROFTL......

Meena Sankaran said...

@ Nagu - You do bring up a good point about me ignoring Saint Silukku. I do apologize. I will amend my petition to the UN to include shrines her along with Goddess Kushbu. And you are a genius for casting your vote for Sheldon Cooper for the prestigious post of Pradhama poojari. I couldn't have chosen better. :-)

Meena Sankaran said...

@ Prashanthi - I feel such kinship to the soul who rewrote the lyrics for 'Paadariyen'. Amen to that song. And Prashanthi, you cracked me up too with the first line. :-)