As the Name Implies

 

A Grand Throwing-Away has unearthed a pile of ancient schoolwork.

I wrote “Our Scientific World” as a review of a unit in the seventh-grade literature text. It is a combination of truth and lies.

For example, “In my opinion the stories in this unit were not as good as those in other units that we have read,” is the truth. I didn’t think the stories in the science unit were as good as the others. They weren’t stories at all; they had no characters, no plot, nothing that made me wonder, “What will happen next?” There was no dialogue. I agreed with Lewis Carroll’s Alice: “And what is the use of a book . . . without pictures or conversation?” There were pictures, but they were strictly utilitarian. Let’s face it: The “stories” were nonfiction and therefore inferior.

The second part of the sentence–“some of these stories have helped me understand science in our world better”—is a big fat lie. I don’t remember any of the specific material, but I’m certain it didn’t help me understand anything except that I wanted the science unit to end so we could get back to fiction and poetry.

Of course, I was only twelve when I wrote this, so lie is really too strong a word. It’s more like reaching. I had to say something.

Why did I save this and all the other paper I’m sorting through and discarding? For one thing, because it’s paper. I love paper, especially when there are words on it. For another, it’s history—mine: tangible proof of my existence. My archives. Silly, I suppose.

But reading over all this proof of my existence, seeing evidence of my youthful scholarship, has been beneficial: It’s raised the level of my humility at least sevenfold.

Our Scientific World” is about science, as the name implies. In this unit are stories telling how to detect weather changes, about going to the moon, flying an airplane faster than the speed of sound, visiting the planets, and how atomic energy will be used to make our lives more comfortable in the future.*

The story I enjoyed most in this unit was “Be Your Own Weatherman” by Herbert Yahraes. My reason for liking this story is that at the time I read it, we were studying weather in science. This story helped me understand better how the weather is forecasted.**

In my opinion the stories in this unit were not as good as those in other units that we have read, but some of these stories have helped me understand science in our world better.

* I obviously had no concept of parallelism in the seventh grade.

** I looked up forecasted today, and guess what—it’s a word.

Albert Einstein: Meowing in Los Angeles

You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat.
You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles.
Do you understand this?
And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there.
The only difference is that there is no cat.

 – Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio

 

Very long William and Very long tail

*

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