Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Marble Run and Number Fun

Matthias got himself one of these for his birthday (with his leftover birthday money from last year):

I think this is what he is thinking of:

One of Bethany's favourite questions lately has been: What's the biggest number you can think of? I have tried to explain the idea of infinity to her -- that no matter what number you can think of, you can always think of one more. Matthias caught on to this concept no problem when he was about that age, but Bethany asks it over and over! Once I explained, infinity is like if I started with a one, and then wrote zeros until I filled the whole line -- then the whole page -- then the other side -- then another page -- then another, until I had a stack that reached up to the ceiling -- then another stack until the whole living room was full! Here she caught on and said, "And then the whole house?!!" Last night she started by asking how many sticks she had to pick up, so I said, "As many as the number of years you want to live in heaven." "How many years are there in heaven?" she wondered. "Think of all the blades of grass in the lawn, plus all the hairs on our heads, plus all the sand in the sandbox, plus all the stars in the sky..." "Wow, that's a lot! Do you think it's 286?" 286 981 is the biggest number she can think of, and comes up whenever I try to explain infinity. (Sometimes the numbers are switched around a bit: 986 281, for example.) She doesn't say the "thousand" -- it's pronounced "nine hundred eighty-six two hundred eighty one." Last night, after I explained "all the..., plus all the..." and said it was a bigger number than I could even say, she said, "But it isn't really the biggest number, is it? Because the numbers keep counting on and on and on." So she is getting it -- kind of.
So I wish you 286 blessings and 981 love!

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