misslynx: (Aidan - w/stick)
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Lynxcub (in reference to a bedtime story I'd been telling him): "Why do they need space suits on Jupiter?"

Me: "Because Jupiter's atmosphere isn't good for people to breathe. Or bears." (One of the characters in the story was a bear.)

"Why isn't it good for them?"

"Because it's made up of gases that aren't the right ones for us to breathe. You remember the elements video? Earth's atmosphere has a lot of oxygen, which is what we breathe, and carbon dioxide, for plants to breathe. Jupiter's atmosphere is made other kinds of gases, like methane. We can't breathe that." (Note: yes, I do know that Earth's atmosphere also has a ton of nitrogen, but that didn't seem too relevant at the time. Additonal note: I have since discovered that I was actually wrong about Jupiter's atmosphere - methane's only a minor component; it's mainly ammonia at the lowest level, hydrogen and helium further up. Still not good to breathe, though.)

"But why does Jupiter have an atmosphere that's not good to breathe?"

"Er... I really don't know. You know, a really good person for you to ask some of these questions to would be your uncle John. You know, Granddad's brother who you met when you were visiting Granddad and Oma one time? He's an astrophysicist - that's a kind of scientist who studies stars and planets and things like that."

(incredibly excited) "YES! Please let's talk to Uncle John! On Skype!" (lunges toward computer)

"Uh, sweetie? It's 11:00. Most people are in bed by now. And you really should be too. I'll send him an e-mail and see if there's a convenient time when you might be able to talk to him."

"Right now! Right NOW!!!"

"I can send him an e-mail right now. We are not going to call him right now."

(heavy sigh) "OK..." (pause, then:) "What other planets have people on them?"

"Well, we haven't really found any other planets with people on them yet..."

"What other planets could have people on them?"

"You mean what other planets have the right conditions that some kind of people might possibly be able to live on them? Like a breathable atmosphere?"

"Yes!"

"Um.... None of the ones in our solar system, I'm pretty sure. Although I think one of the moons of Saturn is supposed to have a somewhat Earth-like atmosphere - Titan, I think it is? But it'd probably be really cold there, because it's so far from the sun."

"What other planets in other solar systems could have people on them?"

"How about we send that e-mail to Uncle John?"

. . .

And when gleefully typing random characters on my computer keyboard:

"I'm writing in a language a cell can't read!"

(reference to this video, where they describe DNA in terms of information being written in a language cells can read)
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