“How do you think the water on Titan is? “
I must’ve responded with a quizzical look, for the son responded with a “Saturn’s moon!”
His interest in all things Space-Cosmos has me unnerved sometimes. He catches me when I am zap in the middle of the myriad things that keep me busy and unproductive, and like a zing of fresh air, sends a question like this to remind me that life does not always have to be stern.
As I thought up a response to another ping at work, I found myself wondering what ammonia-esque water must be like. The temperatures must be more frigid – sure, but beyond that the imagination sort of teeters. Would there be fish in the seas on Titan? Would their eyesight have evolved so differently because of the low amounts of sunlight, and all this, only if we assume life has evolved on Titan.
We did not evolve into cyclops like one-eyed creatures. Two eyes lends perspective to our vision and construct the world around us differently than a person with only 1 eye would. What if we had evolved with one eye on top of our head – always upward looking? And another set under our feet? I wonder how we would have shaped our world if we had managed to evolve like octopii with neurons everywhere not just in our brains.
Over lunch today, discussion moved to contact lenses. With changes in contact lens technology, the disposable ones are in use now. Calculations were being made as to how many days of lenses were left, and I picked up the thread of the third eye and the octopus-like eyes-and -brains-in-limbs theory.
The son immediately calculated the number of the contact lenses we would have required for 3, 4 & 5 eye scenarios, while the daughter moved to the more practical problems
“Yes – imagine – looking upwards all the time, and see bird poop flying towards your upper eye and not having time to close it. Aaah!” That child can take the magic of star dust and turn it into duck-poop!
Another time, there I was thinking along simple lines such as ‘These flowers have faded so much in the summer heat”, or “These poor little squirrels in the heat wave – should we leave some water outside for them?” when the son in his attempt to make conversation pulled me straight out of this solar system altogether with “Did you know Proxima Centauri can pull comets towards it from the original Kuiper belt?”
Keeping up with a child’s curiosity is difficult enough as an adult. Yet, I look forward to these little chats with the budding futurologist, for they make me think outside of the what-needs-to-be-done to the more creatively beckoning what-can-be-done mode of thinking.
One evening, on a little stroll by the waters, the fellow asked me what I thought would be the 5 most interesting things in the future. I love it when I have to think through his questions like this. I had him go first so I could get my thoughts into some sort of order.
He started off with the space elevator, and then a sky hook, moved on to some solid asteroid mining, and then conservation of energy. He is increasingly fond of the channel Kurzgesagt
Their you-tube channel has a number of philosophical, scientific concepts. The videos are only a few minutes long and are done in a highly simplistic style, yet enough to give one the overall picture.
Luckily, for me, I had picked up this book, Soonish by Kelly & Zach Weinersmith
Thanks to the book, I could hold up my end of the conversation. The book is written in a funny and engaging manner. Starting with space technologies and asteroid mining; the book moves on to robotics, augmented realities; and the future of personalized medicine and synthetic biology.
People who have the joy of gaining fresh perspectives from the forward looking spirit of youth are lucky indeed.
May we always retain the inner child in us – The wonder of Shoshin.