Jul 29, 2011

Can We Talk?

It's a beautiful Friday evening. The whole family is outside on the back patio. Bennett and Chloe are playing catch. Chuck and I are reading. Gavin is walking aimlessly around the backyard talking to himself. When out of the blue he shows up in front of me and says, "Mom? Can we discuss antimatter right now?"

"Honey, I would love to, but can you do me a favor? Can you please tell me what antimatter is? And why would you think I could possibly have an intelligent conversation about something I know nothing about?"

"Well, Mom, it's the opposite of matter. I just want to know what happens when matter and antimatter touch."

"Um. Well...How can antimatter touch matter when it's ANTI-matter?? That's what I want to know Mr. King of the Obvious." I always find that I appear slightly more intelligent when I answer his questions with one of my own. "Better yet, let's go inside and google this right now and get to the bottom of this."

However, before heading in, Chuck asks Gavin, "Why would you want to know what happens?"

"Well, cuz if they make gamma-rays, then we could figure out a way to harness that and make weapons out of it."

Oh. Carry on....

Next, we find ourselves huddled over the computer reading Wikipedia and understanding every third word. But he must have understood more than I cuz when I asked him if it made sense he said, "Ya. See Mom, when real matter and antimatter touch or collide it causes the annihilation of both. And photons, otherwise known as gamma-rays, are released."

"Oh. And why do we care?"

"Well, it just got me thinking when we were reading our book today, A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle. In it the author was talking about an explosion in space caused by matter and antimatter colliding and I was wondering if it was real and what that would look like."

"Oh. That's a good book, isn't it?!"

"Yes."

"Can we be done discussing this now?"

See what happens when you read to your children? I think I'll just stick with Dr. Seuss from now on. That, I can understand and explain.

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