Ladies and gentelmen, I am very happy to present to you:
Being a Cosmonaut
A story by Michal Linial
I am back from the airport… not in the best mood for a long discussion but quite open to hear refreshing political statements. 50 minutes taxi ride that is all what it takes… This time, the communication took its own turns… I start with my regular question: “What is new this week”. This time, my Russian Taxi driver ignored my question and asked back: “How many planets are there?” I told him that to the best of my knowledge there are 9 planets that orbit around the sun. Really, he shouted: “my wife tells me there are 8 and she tells me she is a cosmonaut” and he continues, she knows nothing! I said that there might be some debate, so 8 is a good number and probably I got confused. My Taxi driver got really mad now: “You are not a cosmonaut and you know better”.
Two minutes later, he asks me again “how old is the earth”. This time I was a bit less decisive and told my taxi driver that I am not sure, but the accepted number is 4-5 billion years. To make sure this time there will be no conflicts with his marriage, I immediately added, the universe is much older, also, many people believe that the earth is much younger. My taxi driver now is very excited and answers me without hesitation: “You see, I can not even ask my wife this question, she says she is a cosmonaut, but I am sure that if I ask her, she will not know”… I had a creative suggestion to solve this unsolvable catch and quietly whispered: “maybe you should try to ask her about it”. It was a big mistake… He told me, “if I will ask her she may say the right answer but it is only because she is guessing, how should she know what is the age of earth?? Who can know the age of the earth?. What does she think of herself, is she god?? Did she create the earth??” Just before we got to Jerusalem, he told me “I do not believe her that she is a cosmonaut, and even if she is, they know nothing there, I am telling you”…
Michal Linial is a HU Professor of Biology and the Director of The Sudarsky Center for Computational Biology .
This is great – so glad I keep reading this blog even though I skip all the math pieces! I can just see Michal telling this story – will insist on it when I see her!
Dear Edna, yes, this is a great story and the spoken version is even better! And thanks for keep reading my blog.
I looked for some lost paper of mine and found Gil’s blog so Google suggest that it is better than any of my papers from 2008. It made me really happy. Gil -you are welcome to put the other Taxi story in this self promoting publication mode…
your other taxi-and-other-stories are most welcomed on this blog! (still waiting for the heads-eating-story.) Too bad I cannot put a video of them being told. (On second thought, this may be possible as well… )
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