Thursday, February 4, 2010

Awesome Kids' Book: On This Spot

That's Actual Awesomeness(tm), not Sarcastic Awesomeness. I just right now ran across this book while searching for something else and I wish there were books this cool when I was a wee one:

"On This Spot...

"See buildings soar and traffic zoom, a kaleidoscope of color and movement. Now turn the page and time-travel back 175 years, where on the same spot carriages bumped and pigs raced across cobblestones. Turn again and go back 400 years to when a Lenape Indian trail crossed the spot. Now travel farther still, to when glaciers crept . . . dinosaurs preyed . . . a tropical sea teemed with ancient creatures . . . back 540 million years, when rock was all you could see.

"What happened on this spot? What will happen next? Look out your window. What happened on that spot?"

Who hasn't played that game? I still play it now! But where I'm sitting, instead of Lenape (like where I grew up) it would've been Kumeyaay or Uto-Aztecan-speaking Luiseños, and there tweren't no glaciers here, though there are still a couple small ones in the high Sierra a couple hundred miles from here. You can also teach orders of magnitude by playing the order-of-magnitude time and distance game. What were you doing 10^3 seconds ago? 10^5 seconds? 10^11 seconds ago, where were the genes that you're now carrying in each cell right now? Three guidelines for the time version: a year is just over 3.16 x 10^7 seconds, you can't go back before ~4 x 10^17 seconds ago, and you can't go in increments of less than 10^-43 because that's the Planck time. To be honest most people can't be bothered with anything that happens in less than a femtosecond. Beats living heck out of the Kevin Bacon game, doesn't it?

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