“Thank you for coming in for our discussion of Dark Energy and Dark Matter,” says the obviously way smarter person at the front of the room.
The lecture begins and immediately my ass falls asleep on the metal chair. The rest of me is close behind. But the rest of the crowd is into it.
I should be, too. I love to science. Hell, yeah, let’s science the science while we science! That’s the example I set for my kids, who are here with me. The two older ones, who we will call Potential Supervillain 1 (age 13) and Potential Supervillain 2 (11). When they grow up and kill us all, I want them to remember it was dad who took them to the observatory to see the shiny lights in the sky.
“You can see in this chart …” says the science type person at the front of the room. A picture is on the screen giving the room an eerie glow like nuclear waste has just been spilled. I have no idea what the picture is. Is it even a picture? There are a lot of arrows on it, but they point in different directions and other things are going on.
“And in this next chart, you can clearly see …” To me, it looks the same.
The questions begin during this chart, and the rest of us armchair scientists do our best to trip up the volunteer lecturer. She answers them easily, and almost with an admonishment of the stupidity of the people asking them.
I thought my question was good: “Who are the leaders in this field currently?” Ha. That’s a good one. It’s a go-to. Four people around me answer immediately, and I don’t recognize a single name. But the point remains: good, solid question. See kids, dad can hang. I don’t want to brag but I took physics in college, a fact that I have reminded them a hundred times.
I look over at my kids and they are both shaking their heads. It’s as if everyone knows who the quarterback of the Andromeda Galaxy is but me. But it’s not until they speak that I am sure they that I’m going to have at least one supervillain on my hands.
“The shape of the universe is …” my Potential Supervillain son asks. I can’t even complete the sentence because the rest of it is in a language I don’t speak. And the answer is not “like a basketball” but instead a short debate. I look at my son and wonder why he isn’t watching porn. See, I know what happens. It’s the YouTubes. This is what they watch on the computer instead of other videos from Germany. They wouldn’t even understand that joke.
My Potential Supervillain daughter nods along like she understands all this. And there it is, my doom. I was much different at their age. I was riding a bike and taking punches in the face from my brother. Occasionally, when we were bored, I would spit on things. And although my kids do their share of stupid, they are also vastly more aware of everything “out there” than I was.
You know when you say “you have the entirety of human knowledge at your fingertips” when the kids tell you they are bored? Well, sometimes they actually listen to that and apparently this is one of the things that they found. However, I was talking about cat videos.
I do take them to a lot of activities and things. I want the experience, the adventure, to show them the world is out there for them. But now I’m starting to think I’m just preparing them for finding a way to blow it up. They’ll probably spare their mother. And when I told them I was taking them to the observatory to look up into space and see things, they got on their computers and did some prep work. I’m equally impressed and terrified.
“With exotic particles …” my son asks. When the lecturer is giving her response, I lean over to my son and ask him if those are the ones that hang out at those clubs near the airport. He whisper-shushes me. That was a solid joke and not even a giggle from him. This is probably why they will spare mom and I’m screwed.
The lecture continues and I do my best to understand. My brain hurts as it tries to absorb what it’s being told. Seventy-four percent of the universe is made up of Dark Energy (still don’t know what that is), 22% Dark Matter (?) and the rest is observable matter. Please excuse my numbers there. I’m pretty sure I blacked out at some point during that. But it is an interesting lecture.
The lecture ends because apparently the scientist is a high school senior and has a school thing the next day.
My kids are picking up this stuff way easier than I am, I know it. I used to think I was all about this stuff. I was the science guy. I’ve built a trebuchet just to teach them some mechanics. But now, it absorbs a lot slower. But not the kids. They have no mental blocks to any of this and can look at it with unfiltered eyes. Their minds are open to any possibility. Wormholes are not so much science fiction to them but something that will truly be discovered and utilized in their lifetime.
I can only assume at this point that they will use them to hurl me into space. But just so the rest of you know, those are my kids. I did that. And let’s be honest, if they are destined to destroy the world, then I must have done a pretty good job of encouraging them. So really, I’m a super-smart dad.
Also, the rest of you are probably screwed, too. My bad.