In the first of my #twittertuesdays @bllbrwn423–a weekly series on tweeking writing–I quote from a novel called The Book Thief. Liesel, the young female protagonist, finds the first of many gifts in a discarded, deflated soccer ball.
Today’s New York Times reports that teams of scientists have observed a “striking bump” in the data from their colliding particles. The “suspicious bumps” have become “striking bumps.” This sub-atomic categorical movement, this small gift, has produced a “tantalizing hint” of the existence of the Higgs Boson, which some call the God particle.
This recent scientific news story intrigues me for all kinds of reasons. For example, what is the elusive sub-atomic particle at the base of effective, enduring teaching and learning? Today, however, it intrigues me because I see students in literature study as teams of interpreters. When particular matter collides in a novel like Frankenstein, for example, how do these students make sense of the resulting material, or the material results? When Mary Shelley designs her experiment to collide creator and creature, how do these teams of young minds interpret the results?
For example, does Victor Frankenstein’s world of pains transform him from “an Intelligence” into “a Soul”? Students wrote answers to this question, based on a letter from John Keats to his brother George, as practice for their recent semester examination. On the exam itself, they agreed or disagreed with the proposition that, unlike Beowulf, Mary Shelley’s novel blurs the lines between protagonist and the “monster.” Having stated their position, they explained their claim’s effect on an understanding of the term “monster.”
As a last thought, I cannot help but observe that much of Mary Shelley’s fanciful story orbits around Geneva, home to the noteworthy super-collider that is producing “striking bumps” and “tantalizing hints”–small gifts all, the first of many.