Conversations @ 12 years old

Today as we got in the car to take Lillian back to boarding school, she saw a little scrap of string on the front seat.

“Why do you have string in the car?” she asked.

“No reason… not everything has to have an explanation.”

“There’s always an explanation.  Maybe its just we don’t know what it is.”

“Not everything.

“Like what doesn’t have an explanation?

“Radioactive decay, for one.” I ventured.

She didn’t know what that was, so the conversation from there traversed atomic theory, sub-atomic particles, radioactive decay, nuclear power, nuclear weapons and how you make them, the nuclear arms race and the insanity thereof, the Cuban missile crisis, a brief history of the Soviet Union, conversion of old nuclear warheads into fuel for reactors, rogue states with nuclear programs, the North Korean economy, why some economies don’t work well, and the difficulty of military intervention into North Korea.

“I want to go to live in Antarctica,” she said as we were pulling into a parking spot in the leafy grounds of her school.

“Why Antarctica??”

“Nobody can bomb us there.”

“Well, we’d be pretty safe in South Gippsland. At least for a while.”

We’re walking towards the boarding house, my arm loosely over her shoulder.  “How do you know all this stuff?” she asked, sounding like she might like to know lots of stuff too.

“Well, some of it you learn in history, some in chemistry…  All these subjects are good.” I said, as we walk past the library.



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