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Atomic Tale

Updated: May 16, 2020

(a 250 word story)

"What is that?" he asked his father.

"The Aurora Borealis. Also known as the Northern Lights," he replied and waited, hoping his son would ask more. He wasn't disappointed.

"What causes it?"

He loved this part of the discovery process. "You know the Sun?" he asked in return.

"Yes . . . is that causing it?"

Nodding, he elaborated a bit. "The Sun is always burning, making a wind of its own kind called solar wind. It radiates out in all directions and some of it arrives here at Earth and hits the atmosphere and its magnetic forcefield."

"Forcefield!" his son exclaimed with excitement. "You mean like Star Trek?"

"Yes, indeed. Our planet's magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from harmful effects of solar wind, and all that green you see up there is oxygen atoms being bombarded and energized by particles of that solar wind."

"Wow! That is so cool!" his son shouted and waved his arms at the green, undulating spectacle.

"Want to know something even cooler than that?"

Slowly lowering his arms, his son looked askance at his father. “What could be cooler than that?”

His father loved that look.

“Well, cooler than that is how some of the oxygen you see glowing so green up there is just like oxygen that you were created with, and how that oxygen was once deep inside a star–maybe lots of stars like our Sun–somewhere out there in deep space.”

His son’s expression of incredulity was replaced by one of wonder.

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