In the category of “really cool stuff that we learned this week” comes this New York Times article about black holes, gravitational waves and Einstein’s theory of relativity. Whether you’re a well-versed science buff or a casual observer, the revelation that science can now prove that space and time can be stretched, slowed and speeded up is an eye-opener. What’s more, the story has some interesting things to teach us all about the scientific method and persevering through challenges to find the answers we seek.
Share the news with your family, then talk about it at your dinner table:
- Einstein believed that gravitational waves existed, but he became less certain of his belief when he wasn’t able to gather the evidence he was seeking. Are there things you believe that can’t be totally proven? Do you rely mostly on facts and evidence to make decisions, or on your instincts?
- The concept of playing with time has shown up in a number of books, movies and TV shows. What’s your favorite fictional storyline about time travel or manipulating time?
- The scientists in the article point out that until recently, observing and learning about space was something that could only be done visually. Adding audio to their studies helped them achieve this scientific breakthrough. Can you think of any situations in which you haven’t been able to use all your senses? Did you have to change the way you used your available senses? Was your ability to draw conclusions or make predictions altered?
- If you could slow down or speed up time, would you do it? Under what circumstances?
- Groups of scientists have spent decades trying to prove Einstein’s theory. Why do you think they didn’t give up? Have you ever spent a lot of time pursuing a goal that you might not be able to reach? What was it? Why did you continue, even though you weren’t sure you could finish?