Sugar and Space

Developing a taste for those universal questions.

Two of my biggest passions began at age 5. One night my parents were away and left me with a babysitter. I’ve long since forgotten her name, but I remember she fed me delectable vanilla wafers and explained to me how the Earth’s spinning and rotation around the sun cause day and night, winter and summer, and everything in-between.

Ever since then, I haven’t been able to go three days without some kind of sugary dessert, and I’ve been having a love affair with the universe.

I remember the babysitter had to tell me how rotation worked over and over, because I would understand it conceptually one moment, then the knowledge would leave me suddenly, my young brain unable to fully grasp the idea for more than seconds at a time. “Tell me again,” I would say.

I’m over twenty years older now and I think I get it — why we have seasons on Earth, how the stars formed, what an asteroid is. But it must not be completely sticking because I’m still obsessed. How many stars are in the sky? What banged and why?

Now, instead of my childhood babysitter, I look to books and astronomy observations and, more recently, NOVA specials on string theory. I download the NOVA clips and watch them over and over again. “Tell me again,” I think as I sit in front of my computer. “Tell me why.”

Article © 2006 by Gina Mitchell