The God Particle

When I was a little girl, about 7 or 8 years old, I used to spend a great deal of my school lunchtimes lying on my back in the long grass at the edges of the school playing field, staring at the sun*.

I'm not sure what started me on this habit, I mean, I knew even at the time, I wasn't supposed to look directly at the sun (some kids look at ants, some kids look at stars - it's exactly the same thing) - my dad was a welder and he'd already provided me with the toughened dark glass from a broken welding helment so I could look at the sun safely; but I formed this habit of looking directly at the sun and did it for what felt like a long period of time.

Yes, I do now wear glasses.

It was at a time when teachers were trying to cram things (unsuccessfully, mostly) into my head like multiplication tables (still don't know them) and spelling (still don't understand the rules) but all I wanted to do, was pour over the astronomy pages of my encyclopedia** and had a dream to memorise all the information about the planets. Nine planets, man: that's a lot of stuff for a little kid to try to remember - I can remember thinking learning the alphabet was bad enough (it used to get hazy around h i j k l and r s t u). Thank goodness, back then, we (royal "we") didn't actually know a whole hell of a lot about our solar system - the amount of information available today would have drowned the 8 year old me.

Anyway: the whole point of staring at the sun was the thinking. By the time I was able to spend some time actually staring at the sun "full bore" without my eyes tearing up or instinctively shutting, I was mesmerised - in this place where I could think and think and time didn't really matter (possibly about to pass out in the full noon sun - who knows) but what I was trying to do, was comprehend size of the solar system.

hadron ( ) n. Any of a class of subatomic particles that are composed of quarks and take part in the strong interaction.

we're the atom? we're the neutrino?
physists have faith? headless christian chickens