I was listening to North African music ( probably rai music from Algeria) on KBCS tonight and said to my son, “I like this music, Jonah.” He asked me where the music was from and I told him “Algeria.” “Where is Algeria?” he replied. “In North Africa. Well, it’s in Africa. The top part of Africa is North Africa and the bottom is South Africa.” To my son’s mind, Africa is just about the most important continent and he’s always traveling there on his imaginary journeys.
Then he asked me a question about the shape of the world. I told him it was a “ball” (at 4 1/2 years he’s not yet going to understand oval or ellipse) and at the top was the North Pole and at the bottom the South Pole. He asked: “How do you get from the North Pole to the South Pole?” “By boat or by plane,” I answered. He thought about that for a minute and said: “If you go by plane you’re moving, but the earth’s moving too. That would be confusing!” At that he broke up laughing at the incongruity of it all.
I was half tempted to start explaining Einstein’s theory of relativity to him, but I thought it was a tad too soon in his intellectual development! Actually, I wasn’t tempted to do that but was amazed that he’s already thinking about such conundrums as the relative speed of different objects hurtling through space.
He didn’t necessarily come up with this entirely on his own (though he might have). His nanny’s been taking him to see every IMAX film you can see here in Seattle and it’s possible that he learned of these questions there.