“Did you know that the moon was once a part of the Earth?” I asked my stepdaughter Scarlett as I drove her to school this morning. She did not know this, and asked me how it happened, so I explained the Giant Impactor theory.
The Giant Impactor theory of the moon’s origin is pretty simple. During the early formation of the Earth, when it was still very hot, a large body in space, roughly the size of the planet Mars, struck the Earth at an angle. The core of this impactor actually merged with the early Earth’s core, while the mantle of the impactor was ejected into space along with large amounts of rock from the Earth. Over the course of months or years (we’re not exactly sure), this blob of rock coalesced into the moon.
I described this to Scarlett, hopefully in a way that she could understand, and she listened intently and excitedly. She was all “Oh wow”s by the time I pulled up to the school to drop her off. As I drove home, I said to myself, “I wish somebody had been there to tell me things like this when I was her age.” (I was not unhappy thinking this thought, because I realized I can be that person for her.)
I wonder how different I could have been if I had known someone who could have told me things about astronomy, and the wonder of the universe. I didn’t really have the advantage of passionate adults in my early life, and I wonder how differently I could have turned out if I’d been exposed to passion as a child. I’ve always sort of felt awkward about this, like I’m annoying people when I talk about astronomy, or that I’m strange or somehow messed up in the head because I’m so excited about giant balls of gas floating in space, where nothing happens.
But it’s not where nothing happens. Everything happens in space – WE’RE IN SPACE RIGHT NOW! The regular people on this planet are so detached from the fact that every day we’re living in a place of magic, where even the matter that makes us up was forged in the fires of supernovae. What is there not to be passionate about?!
(Image courtesy of Universe Today)