The Need to Nurture Curiosity + Blake Crouch’s “Dark Matter”

If you read my last blog, you know I’m old. It’s okay. I’ve come to terms with it in the last week (a tornado while camping and a surprise birthday party with my peeps helped a lot)–and I did take the week off of blogging. The whole back to school thing, birthday thing, and trying to get into the swing of life. Plus, for my birthday, I made my family treat me to a new planner and all the accessories, plus TWO bullet journals, nice pens and colored pencils, so I’ve been busy with all that fun!!!

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Oh, organization and planning!!! More on this in another post.

 

But I’m done with all of that. Here’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about the last few days, as school started back up and my thoughts have turned to my girls and learning.

And CURIOSITY. More specifically, what happens when it’s sparked. How magical and crucial it is to the learning process.

Especially with science. I mean, science is ALL curiosity.

I’ve watch both my girls get that. They’ve had fun learning science-y stuff. Both their brains have been ignited by the need to know and to understand and to WATCH science happen.

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My girls are quite curious by nature, and both are pretty good science students (I’m pretty sure this is connected). And every teacher they’ve had in their young lives has been great at teaching them the ins and outs of science-y stuff.

I didn’t get that in my life. Don’t get me wrong — I had some fabulous teachers. And I had some fabulous science teachers (well, a couple). But no one took the time to spark my curiosity and make me wonder why. It was all pretty dry, at least for me.

And, because I was a girl, and I didn’t ‘wonder’ about science stuff out loud (although I did in my head), no one thought to push through my seeming indifference. Yes, it was my fault for not speaking up (I hope I’ve taught my daughters the value of asking questions), but I think teachers, and the way they approach science, and especially girls and science, has changed.

And it’s wonderful.

It’s much more hands-on then back in the olden days of my schoolin’, making it so much more tangible and real.

I’ve seen what it’s done for my girls. My 13 year old LOVES science, and does well in it, because it makes sense–because it’s all based on things that sparked her curiosity and then were explained at a young age. My 5th grader with Down syndrome gets it, too, in a much simpler way. But she can talk to me about what she learns and it makes sense.

It’s all very cool.its-science-anchorman

In my own way, without a real grasp of science (I was a good student, and got good grades in biology and an anatomy class in college), I’m a science nerd. I love the idea of physics, even if I don’t quite grasp the concepts. I love science fiction, and a lot of it is physics-based.

I could go back and learn physics: I’m sure at this point in my life I think I would do well (I actually was and am pretty good at math, and I’m I love to learn), but I probably won’t. I like that every time I open a sci-fi book or watch a sci-fi movie a whole new world opens for me, a world that I might guffaw at if I understood the laws of space and time a little better.

So, as much as I wish I had a better science base in my life — something from which my science knowledge could bloom and grow — I don’t. And I’ve survived. And my curiosity couldn’t have been that deep: I’ve seen the wonderful things some have done without great schooling (and my schools were pretty good).

But I’m really glad my girls have a different science experience. With that science they’ll understand the world better, and hopefully be better citizens.

Okay, onto a thriller with a physics twist: Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

 


 

“We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

The Premise

After a perfect night with his family at home, Jason Dessen heads out to celebrate the success of an old friend. Both were promising physicists back in the day, although Jason had the most promise. But he chose to go the family route, and his science suffered. He wouldn’t trade his family for anything, but he can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if he’d chosen differently.

And then he’s abducted by a masked man on his way home. Forced into an abandoned warehouse, Jason is knocked unconscious.

The next morning he wakes up surrounded by hazmat suited strangers, strapped to a gurney. Everyone around him seem to know him, and they greet him with elation and triumph.

It takes awhile for Jason to realize he’s woken up in a different world, one where he is not a physics professor at a small college, but instead is a celebrated genius who has discovered a way to travel to between realities.

But he has no wife. No son. And his only desire is to get back to them.

Somehow, Jason must figure out what he created in a different reality in order to get back to his own reality. And then he must use his creation and his mind to get back to the right reality.

The question is, can he do it?

My Thoughts

There’s a lot of crazy science, and I’m sure those with more science in there life can talk about how all that is incredibly unrealistic ( I’m sure it must be–even to an unscientific brain like mine, it just seems too ‘gimmicky’)  but that’s someone else’s milieu. I’m more of a character and plot girl. Dark Matter was pretty much plot-driven, so I’ll talk about that.

The plot works, in the way “It’s a Wonderful Life” works. You don’t really realize what you had until it’s gone. And then it’s gone. And all you want to do is get it back.

Once Jason figures it all out, he has to fight through many other alternate realities to get there. Some are vastly different; some have just slight, but important, variations.

This is a slight spoiler, but it comes very early in the book, so it really isn’t. But to talk any more about the plot, and Jason, I kind of have to give you this one. little. spoiler.

The masked abductor IS Jason from the other reality. I called him Science-y Jason. The main character, the one with which readers spend the majority of their time, I called Family Jason.

And those two are important. The choices the two made changed their realities completely. And the Science-y Jason wants what the Family Jason has.

Yes, it is confusing.

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The plot was engaging and thrilling, although at times trying to figure out the different Jasons in the different realities did make my head spin a bit. But it was a fast-paced read. The tension is multi-faceted, making it even more interesting.

The reality-hopping got to me a bit, although it did create a lot of crazy different settings and possibilities. The last couple of chapters gave me a headache, but the ending was satisfying.

Reading this, I just kept thinking that this would make a great movie, or television show. It could go on and on and on, as Family Jason jumps realities and attempts to figure out the science to get him back to his original world. And flashing to Science-y Jason and the family, as they start to realize that this Jason just isn’t quite right.

I digress. I give Dark Matter 3.5 stars. Pretty good, but not great. But I think visually it could be really fun.

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