Friday, June 28, 2013

Cosmic Billiards: The Moon and I

Please ask me how much TV I've watched this summer.

 No, don't.

 I will admit to sitting on the sofa (too much) simmering in shows like Hell's Kitchen, Masterchef, Food Network Star. I get this crazy satisfaction from watching other people get all stressed out when they cook, and feel quite smug in not cooking dangerous dishes like duck or risotto for dinner. 

Besides that I watch pawn shows (my son makes me, and he takes notes) and storage war shows.

 I find myself changing channels over and over looking for more shows on the War of 1812, on Andrew Jackson, on Victoria Woodhull or Annie Bessant. I find none. I look for shows that illustrate how how the whole Caribbean basin - Cuba, Florida, Dominican Republic, Texas, Mexico, Louisiana -  shares a common history with unofficial trade capitals (Santo Domingo, then Havana, then New Orleans).

  I can't find much on that so I watch Real Housewives and Restaurant Stakeout and (omg my favorite) MTV's Catfish.

The other night when I couldn't find anything on demand or on TV I found myself hooked into a dramatically narrated show on the history of earth.  

When I teach college level World History courses I usually start with "before people" and then get us right to "here comes civilization and urbanization and ooohhhhh I wonder if this will work?." 

 I'm not trained on dinosaurs or anything with "zoic" in the word (example: paleozoic trifinial protocrestazoans)  so I generally start with creation stories of many peoples (Book of Genesis; the Navajo Creation Story, etc) and move forward into understood history from there. 

But something I saw on TV might change where I start the story of history.

The documentary on the history of the earth (please don't ask me the title - it was very literal - something like The Earth: A History or History of The Earth or Earth's History). I didn't take notes on the show but I concentrated really really hard, so if I get this wrong, that's OK. 

Here's what I learned. First there's a big bang, and then comes atomic things and heavy molecular things and chemical reactions and creation of suns and of planets.

That part is familiar. 

But here it gets good. 

So after earth has been created,  it's just hanging there between (the not yet named, of course) huge Venus and darker smaller Mars. 

Then at just the right time, out of nowhere, a cosmic billiards player shot JUST the right size object towards the earth that hit at JUST the right angle with JUST the right magic zing that it didn't kill the earth but instead caused a bunch of debris that formed into the moon and sent the earth  spinning like an 8 ball on her axis balanced perfectly and delicately between night and day, always changing. 

Thanks to that collision we have the treasured company of a moon, always there, sometimes invisible.

I think the cosmic billiards player intends it to be that way.