Tag Archives: simon singh big bang

Making Space

Learning about space delights me, but book clubs cannot be ignored. Completing “the Big Bang” with some wistfulness, I continued on to a pulpy thriller called “What the Dead Know.” Not a lot, it turns out. Certainly not about writing.

Fortunately, MJ has no such literary distractions. She’s been able to stay true to her obsessions–space, mostly, with a minor sprinkling of natural sciences. Her studiousness has, at least to a mother’s eye, borne some fruit. Her drawings of flowers have progressed nicely, and her latest depiction of the solar system is, if not totally accurate, at least a decent approximation. Look closely (and with a little imagination) and you will see Saturn’s rings, Neptune’s blue hue, even the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.

This matters to me. My child is learning to look outward. She is blessed with curiosity. She does not find the vastness of our universe terrifying.

Not yet.

As for me, I’m waiting for the library to get my next book club selection in. It’s “Lean In.”

Talk about terrifying.



Reading “The Big Bang” takes me magnificent places. Ridiculous. Jaw dropping. As I turn the pages I am sucked in completely,  gazing spellbound–as if at a cosmic movie screen– at our rich, mystery-sated heavens. What a drama unfolds before me! A tale strewn with unlikely geniuses, collapsing stars, far-flung atoms, electromagnetic waves, embracing galaxies, eloquent equations, gold-spewing supernovae, wormholes, invisible bends in the plane of spacetime–all of these and more form and unform against a background of deep-forever space. I watch, rapt, struggling to comprehend.

Then I return to reality. And am presented with…

Walter. My cat. Mystery-sated as well, in his own quotidian way.

Walter strews quite a different material around the universe. Our universe. Pom poms. Red ones. He is addicted to them. Obsessed. He seeks them out. He finds them, wherever they are. He performs un-catlike feats of fine-motor agility to secure their possession. Once acquired, he hoards them in the prison of his teeth. He torments them. Finally, he systematically destroys them, rendering them eventually unrecognizable as the minor crafting aid they once were.

He does not care for yellow ones.

He does not care for blue.

Red pom pom innards line our life. They are ubiquitous–the dark matter of our domestic world. Everywhere an empty space is, they are.

I consider the grand sweep of the universe. The heartstopping vastness of it. The profound beauty of its laws. The implacable pace of it. Its stillness. Its remaining paradoxes.

I consider red pom poms.

And Walter.

And messes of all kinds.

I struggle to comprehend.

And I set down my book. I have cleaning to do.

Those things are a bitch to vacuum up.