September 03, 2006

Space: the final frontier

[cue Star Trek theme in background... the old one]

Here are D and his best friend from school this past year, deeply engaged in one of their many conversations about outer space.

They're five.

Even though
they're only just starting to read (did you see that the book in the photo is upside down?), they know a lot about space. They know that the earth revolves around the sun, and they understand why life gets hot at the Equator. (They also know that there isn't really a line around the Earth there, but that we usually draw that line on our maps and globes.)

They know that space travel is dangerous, and that scientists think the universe is expanding. They know that some scientists believe that the frozen surface of Europa (one of Jupiter's moons, as you undoubtedly knew) might conceal a frigid but life-supporting sea.

And they learn more every day.

My eldest niece is three years older, and hopes to participate in the next series of manned missions to the Moon. Like the boys, she is displeased about the recent "demotion" of Pluto from the planetary ranks. "It used to be my favorite planet," she says, "and now what am I going to say when they ask me what my favorite planet is, which I'm pretty sure is one of the questions they're going to ask me!"

It is possible to remain immune to space fever. You may very well be one of those folks who feels that our limited financial resources are better spent on telescopes and rovers, that we can learn almost everything we need to know through less dangerous means than human space travel.

But I'm instinctively in favor of anything that gets people thinking about the Earth – or Gaia – and the life she sustains in these terms:

Especially as the evidence of our need to shape up continues to mount.

So put me down as pro-space, pro-exploration, pro-big dreams. Whatever the risks. And I don't even drink Tang.

(Thanks again to the women of Mama Says Om
for their continuing inspiration.)


Tracy said...

Yeah. Love it. You write good.

Waya said...

NASA's waiting for some new recruits!! That's amazing loving space at such an early stage. You did good Mama!

Laura said...

Ooooo!!! E is just getting bitten by the bug. D's got a lot to teach her!

kerrdelune said...

Like you, I'm a devotee of anything that makes us think about the sadistic ways in which we are treating Gaia and her incomparable wonders, so that makes me pro-space, pro-exploration, pro-big dreams as well.

One of the things I have been noticing this year is the way in which global warming and pollution are ravaging my woodlands in Lanark. How can we be doing these things to each other and the earth? Shame on us, will there by anything left to leave to our children's children's children?

sweetcheekscakes said...

I like that the book is upside down! After all, in space "upside down" would be very relative, right? Isn't it great how kids love to learn and can easily accept that the universe is so big? I think it's because their minds and spirits are that big, too.


Princess Haiku said...

I just wandered into your blog and find it very thoughtful.

Abbie said...

Isn't it amazing what our children can learn if it intersts them? I can't teach my 7 year old to put his clothes away, but he knows all the planets and their facts!
Lovely post!
:) Abbie

Stacy said...

Well, the world is their oyster. That we must never forget.