Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's a kind of magic

The 24th of July is a special day for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's the day that is celebrated to remember the pioneers arriving at the Salt Lake Valley, and being told this would be their home.
There is a great series, called The Work and the Glory, which describes the trials these pioneers went through--things that are hard for us to imagine. But as hard as it is for us to understand what it would be like to pull a handcart across Wyoming, I would imagine it would be just as hard for them to understand some of the things we take for granted every day.
If I went up to one of these pioneers, pulled out a small black box that fit in my hand, and told them I was going to talk to someone in China, they would think I was crazy. And what if I showed them I could do it? Could it be perceived as magic?
Or imagine going to King Arthur and using a laptop, showing him a satellite image of Camelot. Of course, it would have to be magic, wouldn't it?
I recall my 9th grade electronics teacher posing this question: "What would life be like without the use of electricity? How different would your life be?" It blew our minds to list all the different ways it would impact us.
Then he asked a question that really blew our minds: "What hasn't been invented yet, or isn't widely used, that in twenty five years from now people are going to wonder how we lived without it?" Now, this is dating myself some, but I graduated High School in 1987.
So what is this "thing" that is now in everyday use that we would have a hard living without? It's a little thing called the "internet." Yes, believe it or not, it wasn't until I was in college that I had any exposure to the internet. Even then, it was America Online with my speedy 2.4 K bits-per-second modem (I think that was how fast it was, or slow as the case may be). Back then, you would type in a webpage, then go make a sandwich, take a jog around the park, come back home and take a shower followed by a little nap, and by then the page would be loaded.
So things we can see but don't understand may seem like magic, and perhaps that could even be considered magic.
This point was driven home to me one day by then 3 year old daughter Amy. After work one day, she was so excited to see me because she had a magic trick she wanted to show me. The trick was in the bathroom, which made me a bit leery since she had recently been potty trained.
Her trick was this: she rolled off about three feet of toilet paper. She lifted up both lids of the toilet and put one end in the water, with the other end hanging outside the bowl. She then closed the lids and flushed the toilet. Very soon, the toilet paper outside the bowl moved up and into the toilet. Tada! Magic!

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