Monday, November 10, 2008

Blackhole memories

When they are not fighting over guitars –not real guitars mind you, but the guitar controllers for RockBand and Guitar hero, our little kingdom here settles into a cozy Sunday night routine. Chip’s insistence that his toy guitar be granted the same sharing privileges as the guitar controllers, meaning, he get his legit turn pushing the plastic buttons on “our” toy guitars is as old as the Friday night and the last hours of a lazy, cozy weekend are spent post-dinner in the family room.

As one of us does the dishes, the other shoos Chip upstairs for his night-time routine. Brush teeth, get into his pajamas. Ten minutes later the kingdom of three assembles excitedly in front of the TV. The lights are dimmed and BigGeek who has the supreme powers granted by his being the “Secretary of Remotes”, either turns on a specially DVR-ed show or we just browse our favorite channels until we find something that excites us. We huddle on a couch at first, but soon the cushions find their way to the floor as we stretch lazily, arms and legs in every direction. Chip burrowing here and there like a little squirrel, trying to fit into this crook then into another as we all try to get the “sweet” spot to watch the show, catch the sound effects and stay away from that elbow poking in your ribs. A few minutes after much twisting and turning, some yelling and some compromising, the three of us settle down. Monday morning blues are still far away.

Yesterday is one of many such Sundays. We find our places on the couch, fleece throws covering chilly hands and feet. BigGeek turns on the TV to the science channel. He flips through the guide and we see “Supermassive black holes”. “I want to see that! I want to see the black hole show” Okay, BigGeek, true to his name is a sucker for things like that too. “Are we playing Rock Band?” asks Chip and dives for the “real” toy guitar. “Are we playing Black hole sun?” Chip’s connects black hole to black hole. The cosmological phenomenon to Soundgarden’s 1994 hit. “No sweetie, we are watching a show on black holes.”

The show starts. The graphics are mind blowing. And it’s a bit nostalgic too. For BigGeek and for me. Black holes, Special theory, Quantum physics are some of the topics we discussed at the dining table, growing up. Ditto with BigGeek. His claim to fame is also a couple of uncles who were particle physicists. So, to the both of us sitting here with Chip, watching a show on black holes brings back many childhood memories and as Chip snuggles close to me, I realize that we are making memories here for Chip too. That being said, watching a show on black holes with a three year old is a multi-dimensional experience.

Some excerpts.

“Why is there a black hole?” Asks Chip with his typical 3-yr old existential logic.
“Well… that’s what the physicists have been asking too. For a really long time.”

A graphic of a swirling black hole in the middle of a galaxy fills the screen.

“Is that a black hole?”
“Yes, that’s a black hole.”
“What’s that?” pointing to a swirly graphic.
“That’s a quasar”. Wrong answer. I have dug a hole and a super massive one just now.
“What’s a quasar?”
“It’s just a lot of dust that goes into the black hole. The black hole eats the quasar.”
“Is it hot?” the graphic artist has obviously done a great job.. Chip can deduce the gases are hot.
“It’s very hot. Very very hot.”
“Like the sun?”
“Yup, just like the sun.”
“So is quasar a sun?”
“Umm. No… no.”
“Is sun a black hole?”
“No, but it can turn into one.”
“I want to touch a quasar.”
“It’s very hot and it’s very far away.”
“I’ll get a boo-boo?”
“A big boo-boo. Go to sleep now.”

The images on the screen are swirling galaxies now.
“I want to fly, Aie. I want to fly and go there.”
“And you will. Sleep now.”

p.s. thank god he drifted to sleep before the next show on string theory began!


rayshma said...

not really related to ur post.. but now i'm missing home. and watching inane shows on natgeo with vin.... :(

Preethi said...

Brought back some memories for me too.. we watched a black holes show with Cheeky too.. maybe even the same one!! (What geeks eh?) ..after similar conversations.. now the black hole is a big hole in the space that gobbles everything up including light.. so its always night out there and you have to keep sleeping.. so we don't want to go there!! :P

Rohini said...

I wouldn't have even gotten that far. I'm so sending him to you when the science questions start!

K 3 said...

Thank you Dottie, this means Kochunni can come to you with all his science questions. (hubby has said he will cover math) Two down! :D

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

Amazing how he's making all the connections! Actually, knowing him, not so surprising :)

choxbox said...

string theory? send him to the cavendish laboratories in cambridge when their next science festival comes up in jan '09. they have some mind-blowing visuals. the two seven-year olds with us actually took down notes from them.

DotThoughts said...

rayshma: in a month raysh! and donntcha complain again after that. ok?

preethi: hello, geeky family.. we prolly were watching the same show!!!!

ro and k3: hahaha. c'mon now!

gnd: he makes random connections too.. I tihnk I had blogged about this.. he once asked me if the light in the foyer was 'people' when I said no he asked me if it was then a pizza. WTH?

choxie: dunno about chip, his parents would sure like to visit that! :)

PG said...

Amazing! A brilliant physcisist (or astronaut) in making!

dipali said...

If you can explain black holes to a three year old, Dottie, YOU ARE SIMPLY AMAZING!

Mama - Mia said...

wow!! you grew up discussing black holes!

i feel super dumb! and also realise we have no answers when Cuby asks such questions!!

maybe video conferencing will be verry common by then! :p