Everyone has a vision for the future — how to change the world and how to make it a better place to live. We are nobody to challenge anyone’s personal views, but some ideas look more sound and workable. For example, Nehru was of the opinion that the progress of India can be achieved primarily by science and technology. Post-independence, Prof Sarabhai envisioned harnessing space technology for India’s progress and growth. Indeed, if one looks forward to a bright future for oneself, society, nation or the world, then there doesn’t seem to be any other way than to invest in scientific temperament. Note that by scientific temperament I do not simply mean scientific and technological innovations and inventions, instead I use the term in a rather broad sense which implies looking at the world logically, critically and sensibly.
When it comes to developing scientific temperament among the masses, we need to work on two fronts — first, encourage and motivate people to shun orthodoxy and superstition, and instead use their own mental faculty and resources. Secondly, we need to be a bit patient and make a long-term investment in the form of educating the young, who are going to be the citizens of the future. As Swami Vivekananda used to say, real education should start in the cradle itself. But how many follow this second path? Parents would rather buy electronic gadgets, sweets or toys for their children than books, that too science books.
But it was not difficult to achieve and implement if one had intention. When science itself is exciting, who needs fairy tales anyway? But yes, there are people who are doing just that —- though very few in number, they are striving to develop the science-inclined citizens of the future. I had previously told you about one such book ‘Bright Dreams: The Brilliant Ideas of Nikola Tesla‘ by Tracy Dockray. Today I bring to you another book composed in the same spirit — Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space by Miranda Paul. This book opens the window to the joys and amazement of the universe to kids between 5 and 9 years of age. Given the age of the targeted readers, one might have doubts and reservations about the feasibility of such an idea, but Miranda has achieved precisely that.
Among the various branches and sub-branches of science, astrophysics stands out as the most glamorous and fascinating of them all, particularly if you want to attract the attention of neutral people to think about science. After all, the initial leg of the journey of science included for the most part astronomy and astrophysics. In all these centuries of human civilisation, astrophysics and space physics has come a long way and we understand and see the universe like never before. Credit also goes to the refined optical instruments and space missions of recent decades. Science is an ongoing journey and that makes it creative and fascinating. You never get bored. Sometimes you stop and take a look at this long journey and make a note of all that we know.
Illustrations are made by Sija Hong, which are precise and descriptive. Very rarely would you see such a symphony of words and pictures. In other words, the illustrations very aptly and precisely depict the facts that Miranda is trying to convey.
The text is written in the form of poetic verses. This way, both Miranda and Sija have successfully fused their respective twin passions of science and poetry, and science and art, respectively.
The vast distances and powerful emptiness are so common out here, every other actual thing becomes rare.
Towards the end of the book the author gives more information about the concepts that were earlier presented in the form of verses and factual bits. These include Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, Exoplanets, Black Hole and entities like supercluster and Nebula. The book closes with notes from the author and the illustrator, suggested material for further reading and bibliography.
This book is a wonderful composition of science, poetry and art. It would definitely ignite the creative and imaginative spark in your child. You may consider sitting with your kids holding this book, reading out loud and explaining the various terms and illustrations. Or if they are smart enough, they may explore on their own. This book has enough potential to attract and pull them into the wonderful world of astrophysics. Beyond will make a good birthday gift for your child.
Title: Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space
Author: Miranda Paul, Illustrator: Sija Hong
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Print Length: 32 pages
Price (Hardcover): $19.99
Price (Kindle): $10.65
What does it mean?