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We Predict The Grant Money Will Just Start Pouring In

February 16, 2010

When the trials and tribulations of adult life start getting to me, one of the things that I find reassuring is the old adage that while growing older is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional.  Not to denigrate scripture, but setting aside childish things is just not something we do well in my house.  For a long time, I thought I wasn’t doing my kids a service by teaching them that, but it turns out I’m not alone.  At least the scientists at the the University of Calgary agree with me.

I make this assumption based on an article I read about how these scientists, who clearly have run out of serious experiments to do, have been playing with protons like they are Legos.  For those of you who do not have a small child in your immediate vicinity or perhaps don’t remember your own childhood (those of us who lived through the ’60s and some of the ’70s get a pass on that), Legos are those plastic, primary-colored blocks that can be stacked and fit together to build all sorts of wonderful things.  The scientists at the University of Calgary have somehow managed to stack one proton on top of another proton, and, because they depend on grant money to remain employed, felt this was news enough to alert the media.  Oh sure, they put on their serious scientist faces and talked about how this event had serious scientific applications like quantum computing, but we all know what was going through their scientific little minds.  What was going through their scientific little minds was, “Whoa.  This is only like four billion protons away from being the world’s coolest fort!”

From innocent blocks to...

I thought it was pretty fascinating myself, so I consulted our resident Lego expert, my ten year old son.  When I explained what they had done, however, he seemed less than impressed.

“You don’t understand”, I said condescendingly.  “These are protons we’re talking about.  Microscopic particles.  And they stacked them.  Two protons high.”

“That’s it?!”, he replied.  “I could do that when I was TWO.”

... Mrs. Darth Vader's IUD

It’s hard to argue with that.  At a certain point, kids move on and in my son’s case, he moved on to Bionicles.  Bionicles are a Lego product made for older kids that come in kits of no less than 25,000 pieces each and whose parts seem to multiply during the night while we’re sleeping, which, if you think about it, actually makes them a fairly good value for what they cost.  The only thing that keeps my house from being totally overrun is my Extremely Spunky Border Terrier™ Jade, who has a fondness for chewing stray Lego pieces like they’re gum.  Anyway, Bionicles seem to be very popular among kids who have developed a taste for building things that have your requisite cannons and shooters and swords and spikes and lasers and claw hooks, and none of these are complete until my son has assigned them their own individual sound effects.

As a parent who likes to encourage creativity in her children, I do my best to hide the look of horror on my face when he presents his latest creations to me, but I apparently will never understand their true beauty.  He likes to take the individual pieces and build his own creations, which are sleek and beautiful to him but look to me like what the Lego Company would have come up with had, say, Mrs. Darth Vader been in the market for an intrauterine birth control device.  To each his own.

It’s just nice to see that he, like the U of C scientists, is choosing the option of not growing up completely.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 1:39 PM

    Deb, I think we have the same son. Or they’re twins from different mothers. 🙂

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