Join the Madness

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Search for Life

I took an Astronomy class last year.  We had to read a series of articles about the Top Ten Astronomical Discoveries of recent years.  We had to summarize all of them, then pick one and expand on it.  I've eliminated the summary paragraphs (you can thank me later), and left just the good parts:  

Despite my general self-absorption within my own universe, I discovered that I can draw several parallels between my world and the much larger external one. Specifically, I was intrigued by the article about the search for planets that could potentially support life because I, too, have been searching for life as diligently as any college-educated scientist. I have spent a great deal of time considering what it takes to create a habitable (or inhabitable) zone. However, where scientists have lamented their inability to find proof of life beyond our world, I have celebrated my failure.

It just so happens that the universe I’ve been combing through is located on the top of my eight year old’s head and not outside the Milky Way. While the scope of my search is arguably smaller than theirs, I contend that my search is every bit as challenging and important as my counterparts'. The average human head contains between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs while the universe is estimated to contain upwards of 100 billion stars. Before awarding science the victory in this round, let us consider that I also had to search the rest of the family for signs of life, too. An average 125,000 hairs times 4 familial heads equals a half a million strands of hair to meticulously inspect. Not to mention, scientists have much more advanced tools to aid them in their search. They have powerful telescopes, and networks of supercomputers at their disposal. I, on the other hand, am armed with a comb and my not-as-sharp-as-it-used-to-be eyesight. I’m thinking I may win this round, or at least it’s a draw.

Apparently all it takes to be hospitable to your average louse is a head with hair, and it also helps if the host is living. Qualifications for a planet to host life are a little more complex. The planet has to be near enough to a star for warmth, but not too close. It has to have a significant atmosphere (but again, not too much), be spinning at the just the right rate, be lucky enough to have water and (hopefully) oxygen. I’ll concede this round to the scientists.

We may discover one day that life does, in fact, exist outside of our planet. There is no doubt that scientists will rejoice in this discovery after years of unrelenting failure searching the heavens for a sign. I, on the other hand, rejoice every single day that I find no signs of life on the top of my daughter’s head. I also celebrate the annihilation of the tiny community I have managed to exterminate. Further, I anticipate the day when I can conclude my search once and for all. Scientists, however, will continue to search forever because 100 billion galaxies is a lot to comb through.

It's been over a year and we won the war.  Every day since then, when I look in the mirror, I can't help but look at my hair for signs of a new invasion.  The other day, I'd stumbled out of bed and was searching the hairline for signs of life when something crawled across the top of my hair

I freaked.  I bent over (nearly cracking my head on the counter) shook my head vigorously from side to side while I ruffled my hair with both hands.  I'm sure I looked like a mental patient.  It might have been a housefly for all I know...but it freaked the ever-lovin-bleep out of me.

Anyone else want to admit to waging battle against lice?  (Did the mere mention of the word make anyone itch?)


Nicole MacDonald said...

lice... yep been there. You know those cute pics of me as a kid on my blog.. well about two years after that I look like a boy.

Ahuh. My parents cut my hair off due to a lice epidemic at my school and I looked like a boy *sigh* which is why now as an adult I HATE short hair - never again!!

Angela Ackerman said...

Lice! *shudders* I have not had to deal this one yet, but with two kids of school age, the odds are definitely not in my favor...yanno? Love the analogy, tho. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

aspiring_x said...

shoot! i AM itching!!! darn it!
i just have to say your astronomy teacher was probably rolling on the floor laughing when he got this paper! i'm sure it stuck out from the rest! :)

Bish Denham said...

You are too funny! Good thing I wasn't sipping something or I'd haved spewed all over everything.

Somehow I personally missed this particular rite of passage. However, I did have to help many times in the eradication of the beasties during the 23 years I worked at a home for abused and neglected kids. It always made my head itch for days after doing all the sheets and towels in the house and spraying all the beds and combing all those heads of hair!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes, it makes me itchy just thinking about it. Took my stepson to the hairdresser and was mortified when she pointed out the problem....

Justine Dell said...

Gasp! Lice! My daughter's ENTIRE first grade class got it and they were all sent home on the day of their class Halloween party (this was 7 years ago). I squirmed (and scrubbed) for days!


Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Eww, lice. I've not had to deal with that since I was about 8 and my brother got them -- I got blasted with the lice stuff 'just in case.'

Now I just have to worry if the goddaughter gets them. *shudders*

And yes, my head did itch after this! lol.

Carolyn V. said...

Uck! I hate those little bugs! We've never had them (thank goodness), but one year our whole elementary school had an infestation. We had to do head checks everyday and the kids had to put their coats/backpacks in black garbage bags so they wouldn't touch each other. Hate those things!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

How funny!! I have not -- hang on...*raps knuckles on hard wood desk*...ouch *sucks on sore knuckle* -- What was I saying? Oh yes. I have not dealt with head lice, but talking about it makes me want to check heads after the 3:00 school bus. *scratches at sudden itchy spot behind left ear* Thanks for the reminder.

Psst...I tagged you on my blog today :D

Shannon said...

Ack! Lice! No kids, no lice. Yet. Something I'm sure I'll get to enjoy some day. *shudder*

We're traveling next year and I'm freaked out bed bugs.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm totally itching here! I had them when I was a kid, but thankfully it's been a while. The word totally grosses me out.

Congrats on your success!

Jennie Bailey said...

Not since my mother had to wage war against them when I was in the sixth grade. We had a horrible outbreak at my middle school. I just remember that awful shampoo...and her crying as she stripped the beds and muttered the words "lice" and "disgusting" to herself over and over.

I love that you can treat this with humor. Great tie in!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never battled it, but loved your comparisons!

Theresa Milstein said...

Go to the health food store and buy Neem scented shampoo and conditioner. I bought Theraneem and washed everyday for two weeks. All gone. The bugs hate the scent, so they won't live on the scalp. But it doesn't smell so bad to us.

Everything else I tried, to no avail. Now, anytime we get a letter home that there's lice in the school, we use the shampoo again for two weeks. No more problems.

Theresa Milstein said...

By the way, your analogy made me laugh. I enjoyed your post, as always.