What Are The Chances?
By Richard Robbins 3/2/11
Have you ever witnessed unexplainable situations present themselves in your life from time to time? For instance, the deja vu moment that makes you think, “I’ve experienced this exact scene before.” You may have even had the experience of anticipating a split second beforehand what’s going to take place in a situation like that. My experience leads me to think that there are things that take place “behind the scenes” or beyond our mortal senses and capability to understand.
I had one of those experiences last night.
For Valentine’s Day, my wife and children decided to host a candlelight dinner at our home. We brought out our best table set and sat down for dinner. My four-year-old and two-year-old were fascinated by the candles. They commented about the wax melting on the water. My daughter referred to the melting wax by saying that it was turning into water because of the hot flame. I took the opportunity to teach my little boy and girl some basic science. We observed that the water in our glass pitcher sloshed around and took the shape of its container. I explained that water is a liquid. I then told these two little inquisitive minds that some things (like water and juice) are liquids at normal temperatures like inside the house. Other things, like candles, are solids at normal inside temperatures. We talked about some of the details of what makes something be a solid, and we discussed how those things could become liquids and even gases at higher temperatures.
The conversation escalated into a science experiment. We went to the freezer and took out an ice tray. I had the kids help me pull some ice cubes out of the tray and observe how cold they were and how rigid their structures felt. We dumped the ice cubes into a ceramic bowl and placed the bowl on the lit stove. My curious little rascals (especially my completely enthralled daughter, who clapped and danced as we discussed what was going to happen) watched as the ice cubes quickly melted and turned into water. I asked my kids questions about what was happening, and they gave their best explanations. It was a great opportunity to help their creativity flourish.
Knowing that the next phase change for the water, transitioning from a liquid to a gas, would take a few minutes, I asked my kids if they wanted to watch an episode of Tom and Jerry on while we waited. Of course they were interested in taking a break for their favorite show.
Is the Television Watching Us?
We wandered into the living room and sat down on the couch to watch a few minutes of cartoons. What happened next was, to put it mildly, peculiar. When I turned on the television, a show was on that we haven’t watched for at least a year: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. The question being considered was this: “By definition, when water evaporates, it becomes which of the following?” I quickly got my wife’s attention and told her, “Look what question they’re asking!” I asked the question to my little girl, who blurted out, “It becomes a gas!” Of course, we were right in the middle of discussing that very subject. It seemed like we could expect candid camera guy to jump out and explain that the whole sequence had been orchestrated.
As I thought about the situation, I wondered, “What are the chances everything that led up to this coincidence could have been strung together without some sort of intelligent interference?” I took some stats classes in college, but it would take me some time to figure out the probability of those events being brought together in such a unique way: the Valentines candlelight dinner, a discussion of material phases at the dinner table, the ensuing experiment with water, and the break to wait for water to boil. My initial observation leads me to think that, as in more instances than we could ever be cognizant of, something else was at play, something beyond our capability of understanding. If anyone knows how to run the numbers on this situation to disprove my theory or to validate it, I’d be interested in seeing the calculations.
This article was originally posted on the Parenting blog at MayleesBoutique.com, a boutique store for LDS blessing dresses and boys tuxedos.