Surfing the tubes today, I came across what I thought would be a humorous link on Digg. The headline was something to the effect of “why is it so hot in the US since we’re farthest from the Sun now?” (It now being summer in the US.)
I followed the link expecting to find an educational link with graphics and discussion appropriate for the grade school level. I wanted to see how we were teaching our kiddos basic stuff. Sadly, the link took me to a Nat Geo page clearly written for adult consumption.
Ridiculous that in today’s day and age some adults still linger in the Dark Ages. It’s ridiculous because it’s by choice.
This event caused me to recall the time I spent working in a cookie store while in the last year of my second attempt at educating myself appropriately.
I recalled that while at the cookie store I proved in the sink that Kepler’s third law and Einstein’s theory of relativity were compatible. This is easily done by observing a sink filled with soapy bubbles drain. On this particular day, I had washed whatever it was I was washing and placed whatever it was in the rinse sink, but before draining the wash sink, I began to swirl the soap bubbles in the direction I knew the drainage vortex would form.
The swirling soap bubbles to me represented the matter in the Sun’s accretion disk, soapy bubbles close to the center swirled much faster than soapy bubbles toward the sink’s perimeter, yet all the bubbles were held together through the soap’s cohesion. The soap’s cohesion and my swirling representing the Sun’s gravity. I visually saw Kepler’s third law in the sink. (Kepler’s third law states that the orbital velocity of a planet is inversely related to the distance from the Sun.)
Next, I introduced Einstein’s theory of relativity to the sink, I opened the drain. This introduced into the sink system the effect of gravity due to the central mass falling down a gravity well, supplanting my artificial introduction of gravity with my swirling arm that I had originally used to induce spin in the soap bubbles.
It was fun to imagine the drain as the gravity well caused by the Sun and to see Kepler’s third law play out before me as the nearest bubbles to the drain spun swiftly and the furthest bubbles were dragged around more slowly.
Of course I had long before accepted that both Kepler and Einstein were correct, and was simply amusing myself by noticing an analogy in the soapy sink. I was just passing the time as a curious college student in a boring job.
The co-owner of the store however was were she would always be education-wise, being much older and having made all the knowledge choices she was likely to make in life. I had lent this individual my copy of A Brief History of Time, which was never returned to me. The excuse given was that she had “studied it so hard” that the book became unusable. She wrote me a check for the cover price of the book, apparently not acknowledging the concept of taxation. Oh, well.
I have no doubt that the co-owner of the cookie store destroyed my copy of A Brief History of Time because it contradicted her One Book, the One Book she bragged about carrying around while she was in college.
I was amused one day to discover through discussion that she had no celestial concept of what a day was, what a month was, and what a year was. Absolutely no clue, no understanding whatsoever of the mechanics of the solar system.
I suppose the Nat Geo article is for those adults who seldom read more than one book, and I hope that my son’s generation would find such an article insulting, and that the Nat Geo authors of my son’s generation would find such an article unnecessary.