'The Science of Superheroes'
Just as you go to get coffee during the unending special features on the Spiderman 2 deluxe DVD, your youngest child asks, "What exactly is 'the proportional strength of a spider' anyway?" Or perhaps you're standing in line to buy tickets for Batman Begins when the thought bobs to the surface of your mind, "How can I use this film to enhance my child's science education?"
Before the person behind you pokes you in the kidneys, let me help with both questions. Lois Gresh and Robert Weinberg have written The Science of Superheroes, along with a sequel, The Science of Supervillains. The writing is light and the science is outstanding. While fighting the good fight for truth and justice, Gresh and Weinberg tackle biology, astronomy, and physics.
Finally, you'll be able to discuss E=mc2 over dinner while visions of the Flash race through your children's heads. If you seek a contemplative silence over your starch and protein, break out the old chestnut about Galileo's square cubed law. You can lean back with your after-dinner port and announce, "So, when Giant-man doubles in size, his surface area increases fourfold and his volume eightfold. Could this be why Giant-man suffocates and Ant-man stomps arachnid butt?"
Chances are that anyone interested in superheroes, even the cinematic ilk, has latent interest in science. Gresh and Weinberg do answer the spider question, but the webslinger proves a bit disappointing in the science department.
--- Craig Brownlie
This week for families
Arnett Branch Library Wed, July 20. Scrap Art, 310 Arnett Blvd, 2 p.m. 428-8214
Central Library Tues, July 26. Sounds in Clay. Children's Center, 115 South Ave, 2:30-3:15 p.m. Free. Register. 428-8150
Fairport Public Library Tues, July 26. The Magic of Waterfalls slide show, 1 Village Landing, 1 p.m. Free. 223-9091
Family Summer Concert Series Sundays. Total Sports Experience, 880 Elmgrove Rd, 6:30 p.m. Free.
Greece Chamber Family Picnic Thurs, July 21. Millenium Lodge, Erie Canal Ponds Park, Elmgrove Rd, 4-8:30 p.m. 227-7272
Henrietta Public Library Mondays, Family Pajama Story time, 7-7:30 p.m. | Tuesdays, Jumbles, 10:30-11:30 a.m. (grades 1-3) | Fridays, Movies, 2 p.m. | Wednesdays, Toddler Story times, 10:30 a.m. (preschool). | Thursdays, Preschool Story time, 10:15-10:45 a.m. (ages 3-4) | Thursdays, Story time, 11-11:30 a.m. (age 5) | Wed, July 20. Tune In Sing Along, 2-3 p.m. | Tues, July 26. RPO Petting Zoo, 2-3 p.m. | Wed, July 27. Cooking with Sandra, 7-8:30 p.m. Register. (ages 8 & up) | 455 Calkins Rd. 359-7092
Main Game Sat, July 23. recreation activities for kids, entertainment, Main St between Plymouth Ave and State St, downtown Rochester, 12-6 p.m. Free. 428-6755
Photography Workshops Thurs, July 21: animated cartoons, 5-6:30 p.m.; spinning images, 5-6:30 p.m. | Tues, July 26: garden images, 3-4:30 p.m. | Thurs, July 28: unique Polaroid transfers, 5-6:30 p.m. | ages 7-14. George Eastman House, 900 East Ave. $3-$8. 271-3361 ext 379
Sonnenberg Mansion & Gardens Sundays. 151 Charlotte St, Canandaigua, Story Time, 2 p.m., free with admission, 394-4922
Sterling Nature Center Wed, July 20. Bats! Cayuga Museum, 203 Genesee St, Auburn, 11 a.m. 315-253-8051 | Wed, July 27. Herpetology, Sterling Nature Center, 2 p.m. 315-947-6143
Quiet Noisy Stories of Preschoolers Wed, July 20. Children's Center, Central Library, 115 South Ave, 10 a.m. registration required, 428-8150
It must be really tough to be a two year old: surrounded by giant, arbitrary, unpredictable humanoid creatures who don't seem very smart but do know how to run things. When you are two, the world works by magic and should revolve around you. Anything you want ought to appear immediately. Everybody ought to read your mind and follow your commands. No rules ought to apply to you. You know you have superpowers.
But then nothing goes right and you barely know the language. How utterly infuriating. Sometimes you just have to completely lose your composure and scream until you are done.
Two year olds don't really think this through, but it helps to use our relatively grown-up minds to imagine how the world looks to them. Then we can understand that tantrums are expressions of frustration from tireless, slightly crazy explorers in a huge world who have limited abilities to express their feelings. Tantrums are emotional storms that allow toddlers to reboot and keep going.
And the tantrummers watch our reactions. Do tantrums work? Do we respond by giving in? Do we give tantrumming toddlers power? Tantrums start out as expressions of frustration but can become manipulative. Children who are still using tantrums daily by age three to four have a problem. Either they have unusual sensitivities, expressive language problems, or have learned that tantrums work.
We all had tantrums. We learned to stop when we discovered our real superpowers lay in our ability to empathize.
--- Laurence I. Sugarman, MD