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Our world, at fourteen

Our world, at fourteen
By Arina Pittman

The World Through the Eyes of 2 Young Women

Helena Andolsek and Ella Nichols are 8th grade students at the Santa Fe Girls’ School.

Helena: Hello!
Ella: Hello!
H: So, a discussion about how we see the world.
E: Yes! How should we start?
H: Well, we are both fourteen, and we both are very interested in chemistry and quantum physics. I don’t exactly see the world as a swirling mass of atoms and particles and dark or light matter, but I do think about those things a lot and I’m certainly hoping to become a chemist.
E. Yes. Isn’t periodic table just amazing? Not only can I tell you everything you want to know about an element (if you know how to read it it, that is,) but it can predict what an element will be like and how it will react, even if the element hasn’t been created yet! Periodicity is quite literally everything!
H: It is! I don’t think I’ve heard that word before, but I quite like it. Also, I think, it is very important to learn how to read the periodic table correctly.
E: most definitely so! Atoms are completely governed by the rules of the periodic table. There are absolutely no exceptions! Anyway, it is fascinating. Who would not want to learn about the periodic table!
H: And understanding and reading the table becomes more fascinating all the time! Because element 118, which is the currently the largest known element, is certainly not the end of the periodic table. I wonder what element 125 would be like!
E: So do I! Did you know that some scientists believe that there may be a completely new type of element after 118? Like the lanthanides or the actinides, which don’t fit neatly into the periodic table!
H: I didn’t know that! Its very intriguing. I’m very excited to imagine that the element 137, which might or might not even exist, does not spell the end of the periodic table, like was originally thought.

helena and ella
E: Well, maybe not. Scientists have thought it was the final element of the universe, at least for a while, because the number 137 has a lot of amazing properties. It is amazing to think that electrons could do this.
H: Do what?
E: Oh! Electrons in elements past 137 would have imaginary or oscillatory energy! They would no longer be in a bound state.
H: We both love talking about this! Perhaps even a bit too much. But we do think about other things too. Such as horses.
E: Yes, you do talk about horses quite a bit.
H: Well, riding is very important to me. Working with horses has very much affected my world-view, because you really have to learn how to handle a balance between respecting someone and still asking that they respect you.
E: I think my world-view is rather science related, generally.
H: It should be mentioned, however, that we have other thoughts.
E: Yes, I read quite a bit. And, of course, I love cats.
H: Yes, cats. Anyway, I think that right now is quite an interesting time to be a young woman.
E: What do you mean by that?
H: Well, so much is changing. There are so many new, amazing discoveries, and so many excellent opportunities for interesting careers, I mean.
E: Maybe to make discoveries in chemistry or physics.
H: It is such an exciting time to exist!
E: It is!