When I was a wee lad of about six, my favorite things to read were issues of National Geographic, Scientific American, and Astronomy Magazine. (This probably says acres about my present-day personal problems.) Why would a kid be interested in such dry reading? Because of the pretty drawings!

One drawing is of a bunch of brightly-colored balls attached to each other in various ways. In the next drawing, some of the balls get knocked off, but that's okay, because they re-join with other balls to make another… molly... cule?

Here, a silly-looking light-blue bag with little twisty things inside it is covered with lots of triangles. The triangles keep all these bad things away! But this really small bad thing has holes on its surface of the exact same shape as the triangles, so it attaches itself to the bag and puts its own little twisty things inside! Now there are lots of those things inside the blue bag, and they all break out!

BOOM!!!!.... Then, 10-some big number seconds after (is that a lot, or a little?), all these little balls, some with pluses and minuses on them, just appear out of the fire. It seems that ever since, lots of other little balls have been appearing out of nothing as well, but it's okay because they always cancel each other out before they hit anything. Well, almost always. It seems we can still hear the rumble of that huge "BOOM!!!!" to this day with special machines.

This is a tiny black dot, and around it there is a big black circle. It seems that even light cannot escape from the big black circle, and that the dot is extremely dense. Of course, I don't know what "dense" means, but it sure is a cool drawing!

In this one… hey, this one looks funny! Here's a little tadpole swimming happily up a tunnel until it reaches this ball. There are millions of other tadpoles along with him, but usually only one makes it. When two make it at the same time, sometimes that means... fraternal twins? (This resulted in a few embarrassing questions for my mom. For some reason, she didn't like it when she found I had been looking at those pictures....)

These days, of course, I know what the words that go alongside the pictures mean. (Most of them, anyway.) But I still have an irrational attraction to those little diagrams. Pretty abstract pictures for pretty abstract ideas. I'm sure there's something symbolic in all of this, but I think it's more fun if you come up with your own interpretations. And not just for the pictures....

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