Two days ago I reblogged this post about whales, whale song and conservation; however, I hadn’t time to view the videos as I’ve been preoccupied with my son this weekend.
On Friday (June 14), I picked my son up, took him to his final t-ball practice of the year and before we left the park, I spotted this little guy (below) crawling on a nearby tree. I still have yet to identify it, so any of you passionate entomologists out there, help me out! Apologies about the picture quality, the iPhone quality was the best I could provide with such a small creature. Landen and I were quite curious, so any help would be appreciated, folks.
Moving on…I took him home to change, then we went to the store to pick up drinks for his teammates for his final t-ball game on Saturday (June 15). While at the store, the car battery died and I had to have it jumpstarted in the parking lot by a grocery store employee. No biggie, but this was Landen’s first time witnessing this, so I explained to him how careful we must be and how the energy is exchanged between batteries. These unique educational moments are rewarding via science communicated on-the-fly in these random situations. It also helps to have such a curious son probing these adults for questions about how this works and what’s going on. It also opened up further conversation (there have been many) on vehicles, the unnecessary perpetuation of combustible engines, fossil fuels, vehicle batteries and unlimited energy via the sun.
We brought back some food and after I finished, I snuck out back to set up the telescope. We came back outside together, viewed Saturn, the Moon, discussed stellar distances and the length of time it takes for the photons of light to travel before being collected in our eyes. So…yeah, I talked about spacetime with my 6 year old son. This is how you parent. Haha. In all honesty, if he wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t discuss this stuff but the kid is smart and curious, what can I say? Lots. It’s spaaace!
The Moon on the evening of Saturday, June 15 via my iPhone (again, terrible picture quality but this is a raw story).
The Moon via Ted Roger Karson (Flickr). When I saw this, I had to include it in this post as it provides a much better depiction of what my son and I were gazing up at this evening. Thanks spacettf for posting this!
I forgot to mention: before venturing out back to the telescope, he wanted to catch a few fireflies, so he brought 2 of them inside and we placed them in a small container to observe them. Quick Fact: Did you know there are over 2,000 species of fireflies (lightning bugs) which are insects of the glowworm family? I intend on doing a full writeup on this because fireflies are unique to specific warm areas and I just happen to have grown up around them all of my life. I recently discovered they’re endangered, which inspires me to publish a post all about them and what we all can do to help. Stay tuned. For now, see the below factoids..
From National Geographic:
Everyone knows how fireflies got their name, but many people don’t know how the insects produce their signature glow. Fireflies have dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens. The insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat.
Firefly light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps fireflies find potential mates. Scientists are not sure how the insects regulate this process to turn their lights on and off.
Firefly light may also serve as a defense mechanism that flashes a clear warning of the insect’s unappetizing taste. The fact that even larvae are luminescent lends support to this theory.
After packing up the telescope and venturing into the garage to put it away, he was bothered by the mosquitos, so I lit some incense, which led to a conversation about how we can extinguish the flame on the end of the incense wick by pushing the molecules in the space around us by a swift movement and thrusting of our hands or arms toward the flame.
“You mean there are molecules and atoms all around us right now?” (he wiggles around waving his arms…)
“Yes!” In between everything in this space we’re in right now!
(Pinches his fingers close together…)”So I’m holding one right now?”
I explain to him that they are extremely small, where only advanced microscopes can see and when he claps his hands, the sound that it emits is actually these molecules and atoms being forced away from each other very rapidly, generating this perturbation.
Then I rediscovered 3 childhood literary treasures: my Calvin and Hobbes books. This resulted in Landen curling up with me in my lap - it was nearly 11pm at this point - and reading through a bunch of the story strips….to this date, an unmatched moment of nostalgia in my life. As I read aloud, narrating the short stories as animated as I could, he was cracking up…it was….awesome.
The volumes I’ve had since elementary school (oh and I’ve read much more than this, these are just the ones I’ve personally owned):
Finally, if that weren’t enough for the evening, the post about whales and whale song…
We went inside, I pulled up my laptop and I remembered I wanted to share that post with him. As we watched the first video, he was speechless. I spoke softly about how sound vibrates and moves across distances like rippling waves in the water, becoming elongated and stretched the further they traveled, and how powerful a whale’s song must be to vibrate those divers’ chests upon their humpback whale encounter. Landen silently sat there, tired, but entranced by the beauty of these ancient creatures. As a child fascinated by dinosaurs, it was a beautiful thing to see.
We then proceeded onto the second video, equally amazing, as he was able to imagine the complexity and the sheer size of the blue whale in such a close encounter. As he sat there, taking all of this in, I tell him how big blue whales are…so big that he could actually swim through a blue whale’s veins. What a thought for a 6 year old’s brain…
He passed out as we neared the end of the second video of this vulnerable humpback whale rescued by passing conservationists, bringing tears to my eyes as I sat with him silently, both of us in awe of that footage. As the video came to a close, I peered over to view an exhausted and subtly snoring 6 year old. Special thanks to thekidshouldseethis for sharing that brilliant and emotional post.
Being a father has been the pinnacle of humility for me along my current 30 year journey through life thus far. When I woke up this morning, he, of course, said “Happy Father’s Day.”
My first words to him were of thanks, but to remind him that a predetermined calendar date throughout each year to celebrate fathers is hardly of significance to me as it may be to others; because each day I live and breathe I’m thankful for him and indescribably appreciative of the kind of perspective and true humility his presence has been to me; and my love for him doesn’t recognize society’s Hallmark-holidays.
The fortunate position I happen to be in - with a relatively healthy brain capable of educating another young mind - is a natural evolutionary achievement in itself. And with that, I pledge my unwavering allegiance, respect and adoration not to a state, flag, country, or planet; but to the stars and the universe for permitting such an experience as the life I live in this epoch of time. I love you, Landen.
. Carl Sagan | The Story of Everything (Video)