“You might as well be walking on the sun…”
This morning, while stuck in traffic somewhere under the bridge along floodway, Pasig, Janine, Sage and Kay were talking about how one of their classmates saw a planet the other night. The conversation drifted to include the Stars and the Sun (One of them noted that the sun is the nearest star to Earth.)
Janine skeptically asked off-handedly, “Can a person really walk on the sun?”
Sage answered her “No.”
Then Kay chipped in “they can only walk on the sun in Phineas and Ferb (a cartoon series on TV.)”
Then somebody asked is the sun the biggest star? During the pause that ensued, I volunteered that sometimes stars like our sun balloon into really gigantic stars called “red giants.”
They asked how really big do they get? I answered, the sun can become so big it will gobble up the Earth. In the rear view mirror I could see Sage and Kay got a little upset with what I said.
So I added “don’t worry about it, by the time that happens we will all be long gone, including everyone we know and their great, great, great, great grandchildren.”
“What’s the difference between the Milky way and Black hole?” I realized I just opened the Pandora’s box of Janine’s curiosity. Kay gamely answered, “I know: Milky Way is white chocolate while a black hole is a Dark chocolate.” This brought the house down. I mean, Car. We we’re laughing so hard at how ingeniously she phrased the metaphor.
I just added that the milky way is one of the galaxies in space where our own sun is located while the black hole is formed when a red giant becomes so big. I asked them, “what happens to a balloon that has grown so big?” unanimously they said, “It explodes.”
Boom! I said that’s how black holes are formed. Imagine a Red Giant Star exploding because it becomes so heavy, it collapses and becomes smaller than my thumb. Its gravity will suck in everything around it including light…
Then it hit me! Susmaryosep! I’m talking about General Relativity to Grade Schoolers and they are gamely taking it in stride.
“Why did God create other planets when no one lives there?” Wow! That was a hard one. Janine was on a roll. As far as I’m concerned she just asked the grade school equivalent of the question “If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, does it make a sound?” I felt my nose will bleed in a few seconds…
Thank God one of them said that if someday when the sun becomes too big and gobbles up the Earth, we will need to live on other Planets.
Kay exclaimed “Then we will be the aliens in those planets!” (I just realized that James Cameron’s film “Avatar” has entrenched itself in our pop culture.)
When we reached another bottle neck in the Eastwood area, Janine asked “Tito Marvin, is there a planet where time stops.” Ok, I asked myself how the hell does one explain special relativity to a 5th grader?
I treaded carefully, I said we can not really stop time but time slows down. “Ate Janine, right now our car is traveling at around 30 kilometers per hour because we’re in traffic (and we are running late). If your friend is in a car that is traveling at the speed of light , which is almost 300,000 kilometers per SECOND, time will slow down. Once you catch up with your friend who is now in School after riding in a car that traveled at almost the speed of light, and you compare your watches, you will see that her watch ran slower than yours.
I think it was Kay who asked “what about the watch of somebody on a Jet plane who is not traveling as fast as light?”
I answered that there will also be a difference in their watches when compared to the one who traveled on a Jet plane. But I added that difference will be so small.
Kay guessed “Will the difference be one second?”
I answered “Well, not quite. You guys studied FRACTIONS and DECIMALS, right?” I continued, “the difference can be measured by probably a billionth of a second.”
Sage commented that no one can feel THAT difference. Everyone including Sabine agreed with her. On the flyover while looking out the window, she commented that the Sun is like a giant ball with many flashlights. Then added that Ms. Romero said that there was a place called “Big Apple” not because it contains Red Giant Apples but because of the many people there.
I said, “That’s New York.”
I think it was Janine who sang the chorus of “Empire State of Mind.” Mercifully, the conversation shifted to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. I secretly breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God. I told myself I can relax now. Talking about the Grammy Awards and Beyonce will not make my nose bleed unlike the previous topic.