Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Passing on Wisdom
Today I went to the California Academy of Sciences since I have the week off, and just before I left, after having a nice, overpriced lunch in their killer cafeteria, I went to visit the Foucault pendulum. I had just done a small pendulum lab in my physics class, and felt like just closing the circle, so to speak.
Not to be too technical, but what this pendulum proved, over 150 years ago, was that the earth truly was spinning on its axis in space. The swinging ball would stay pointed toward some spot in space while the earth turned beneath it. There's a sign on the side saying essentially just that.
So, there I am, kind of mesmerized, thinking of how I used to watch this same ball as kid, when some dad starts explaining it to a group of kids. He talks about how some motor swings it back and forth, and how the earth's magnetic field makes the ball move in a circle!
I wanted to tell him he was wrong, that he was misinforming the kids, but I didn't. I can be a real know-it-all jerk in situations like that, and just sort of suffered silently as he led his little group on to who-knows-what. It's a good thing that parents bring kids to a science museum, right? I'm not really sure what to say here, but I'm sure we've all passed along some sort of misinformation to the younger generation. I know I have. Still, I wish those kids could know just how cool this spinning ball was!