A short introduction is in order. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a book about Science for those of us who are not exactly scientists but get excited by, let’s say, the movement of tectonic plates, or the quarks, or the words quantum though having very little understanding of either one of those things. It is a very exciting book, from which I have been gaining a lot of knowledge. My hat goes off to Mr. Bryson who, in my mind, is now given a new name of The-Man-Who-Knows-Nearly-Everything-and-I-Wish-I Knew-That-Stuff-Too. This is a great name I think.
So, yes, I learned a lot. Here is Lesson 1: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING. Seriously, nobody. And nothing. “We simply don’t know” is a sentence you will find in every chapter. We do not really know what is inside the planet because we cannot get inside it. We found fossils of some weird lifeforms, but if there is such a thing as evolution, we are not sure who they evolved from. (It turns our that Darwin could not explain it, either… Go figure.) Actually, we are not sure who we evolved from because we cannot find any five digit creatures who could possibly be our great-great…. grandpas and such. We are not sure what the tiniest particle of matter is. The crazy idea is that there might be a universe hiding in some minuscule part of electron, and our universe might be a part of another electron. So we are in someone’s atom. Crrrrrazy.
As my student eloquently put it once, “Mrs. D, sometimes I sit in my room and I look at the walls, the pictures, and the books, and I think that all of it is matter, and inside all of this there is something smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and then I get such a headache.”
The bottom line is that we simply do not know, and we may never know because we seem to be looking at some very near extinction, so really there is not even time to know…but this is a part of another lesson I learned.
So now, to honor the fact that no one knows s**t, I will use “most likely”, “as far as we know”, and “probably” in all my lessons. I will avoid the word s**t though I will be tempted. Instead, I will say We just don’t know.. I do not even know how I am going to teach from now on. Should I just start with “seriously, guys, I do not know, but here is what I read some place… “? Let’s just be honest… We simply don’t know…