On Why Science Is Fun

It’s been slow going over here at the Book Mill.  I’m reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is enjoyable, but it is taking a long time to read.  I do almost all of my reading on the train, and let me tell you, reading about the theory of relativity and the history of quantum physics at 8am is a challenge.  Read about superstring theory, or take a nap?  Lately I’ve been choosing napping instead of reading. 

But, this is some great writing.  The idea of the book just came from Bill Bryon’s natural curiosity on how things work and his dissatisfaction with boring old science textbooks and how they suck all of the fun out of science.  Anyway, I love this book.  Everyday I learn something new.  I get to work and I tell Sashana what I’ve learned and we talk about quantum leaps and how electrons can be nowhere and everywhere at the same time.  Here’s something interesting I learned:

It isn’t possible, in any practical terms, to draw the solar system to scale.  Even if you added lots of fold-out pages to your textbooks or used a really long sheet of poster paper, you wouldn’t come close.  On a diagram of the solar system to scale, with Earth reduced to about the diameter of a pea, Jupiter would be over a thousand feet away and Pluto would be a mile and half distant (and about the size of a bacterium, so you woudn’t be able to see it anyway).

Also, when a baseball is thrown at 100mph from the pitchers mound, it gains about 0.000000000002 grams by the time it reaches home plate.  Isn’t science awesome?

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