Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Walking On The Sun

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

A question came from the back of the room: "How did they figure out how hot the sun is? Did they send probes or something?"

"I was involved in that project as well," Dietrich said. "We used a really, really long thermometer. Ever hear of Akron, Ohio?"

"Of course," the kid said.

"Well, no one else had before they made the thermometer. That put Akron on the map."


"Yeah, wow. This was cutting edge stuff. So anyway, we were prepared when we went to the sun."

"Why couldn't we get the first guy?" A kid near the front asked his teacher. She shushed him, but too late.

Dietrich cut his next sentence short. "I was supposed to be the first guy! That little bastard, Van Nuysen, shoved me aside at the last second and dove in. He didn't care about protocol or consequences, he just knew he'd get into the history books. Joke's on him though, Neil Armstrong is still a bigger name. Ha!"

"How'd you walk on the sun? Isn't it hot?"

"Well, first off, you don't really walk on the sun, that's a common misconception. You just sort of swim around in the photosphere. To answer your second question, yes it is hot, but as I said, we knew that going in. Our boys had been working on an extra strength sunblock for years. Once that was perfected, the rest of it was a piece of cake."

"Wait a second," the teacher said. "Are you trying to tell us that the only thing between you and ten-thousand degrees of nuclear inferno was sunblock?"

"Well, we used multiple coats. I slathered it on until it was about two feet think."

"Oh," said Mrs. Henderson, embarrassed.

"Okay, I've got time for one more question," Dietrich said.

"How come you came back so early?" a little girl asked.

"It wasn't too early, only about two days. Turns out that the sunblock, even as good as it was, ran a little when things got that hot. And let me tell you, when that stuff gets in your eyes, it burns!"

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