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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

10 December, 2004

Senile Ramblings

I think I have fallen love with Rucha.

She's irrepressible, speaks with clear, measured
tones in a manner as crisp as freshly starched linen.
The keenness of her intellect zaps even professors
like the one who lectured us, a Ph.D. in astrophysics
with no less than 40 years of experience in searching
the dark night skies... he threw up his hands in obvious
despair in front of this huge assembly and said I just
don't know young lady ! He blushed a cherry red, and
mopped his brow inspite of the centrally airconditioned
hall giving me the chills.

Rucha, you see, is a ten year old precocious child.

Whilst the good professor from an American university had
drilled a whole lot of high-falutin data from physics
and chemistry in our heads about the meterites falling on
us daily, all the time, Rucha was sitting in the front row
with her mother looking at her amusedly from the corner of
an eye.

There were some head-turning statistics that made me sit up.
They have more than 17000 pieces of alien meteorites in just
one museum, the Smithsonian, at the US of A. And India is very
predictably at the bottom of this list with only 120 pieces to
show for our 1.25 billion souls.


Why indeed. The lack of awareness is abysmal here. In my own
backyard there must be some alien rocks rotting away to glory
and I may be chasing the lustily all-night yelling dogs with them.
There is much higher awareness in other countries.

My place at Bavadhan is in a valley and I have often gone on
hourly excursions using my two feet and no vehicle. I was once
astounded to see what seems like a meteorite hit, an almost fully
circular crater in a hill nearby. I promptly told my daughter
Mimi, then a ten year old in love with astronomy [she has remained
awake a whole night through to catch the meteor showers... twice in
past few years]. This saturday there is a meteor shower by the way.

The astronomers' club after my disclosure tonight wants to organise
a search party and look for meteorites. Great.

Before we took the good prof for dinner, what stumped him from my
little girl friend was this question : suppose a meteorite falls
into Jupiter, what would happen? [ Here she gave me a special
twinkle eye smile, for I had lectured her and her contemporaries
only two weeks back about the planet Jupiter and its satellites,
and the Galileo mission].

The answer to this simple question is not so simple, the prof said
and I agreed to. The meteorite would vaporize, but would not be lost
as dust or rise up... due to the immense gravitational pull of this
failed star that Jupiter is. Perhaps it would become a metal vapour
like gas and be driven deep into the gaseous planet. May remain inside
may bob up and down, may do tricks. The inquisitive girl remained
unsatiated so I had to venture forth an explanation about how solids
turn to liquid and liquids to gases and then to plasma. She nodded
wisely and left us alone.

Amazing little future astronomer.



Blogger Geetanjali said...

Just curious Max, is this the same girl who asked you those intelligent question when you lectured on the subject a while back?

It was a delight to read this post - even though I'm quite totally ignorant bt astronomy! Li'l curious kids who still maintain that child-like innocent curiosity and show sparks of intelligence never fail to make me smile...a frnd of mine read this post, while browsing Caferati ( to find out what my latest obssession is all about) and mentioned that she liked this piece. :-)

10 December, 2004 18:35  
Blogger Pincushion said...

Ahhh..I can absolutely identify with this :->
I have had the honour of being in the company of such precociously intelligent young persons during the course of my career especially when they are also physically challenged..they have never failed to impress and inspire me..
Lovely piece.

11 December, 2004 00:53  
Blogger raindanseuse said...

Is it because of this that they say the child is the father of man?
I'm always amazed at how kids pick up knowledge. their methods are unbound by the traditions and teachings of society. you never have to ask a kid to unlearn whatever they've learnt.
This piece made good reading.

13 December, 2004 00:18  
Blogger Max Babi said...

hey Geets,

Yes Rucha is the same girl...
and I was jolted to see her walk down
the passage at Sawai Gandharv Music Fest,
leaving for home well past 1.30 in the night
-with that fiery twinkle intact in her eyes.
Her mother seems perfect, as a guide.
cheers !

15 December, 2004 08:47  

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