fresh green grass with bright blue sky

Why is the Sky Blue?


fresh green grass with bright blue skyI remember staring at the blue sky that morning, thinking it was so beautiful and clear. I wondered why the sky seem bluer the further way I looked from the sun.   Our class was out there looking at the sky and I wondered with all the childlike wonderment of a typical 5 year old, “why is the sky blue?”  I glanced around at my classmates and I could tell by the expressions on their faces, they wondered the same thing. I finally mustered up enough strength to raise my hand. Interrupting the lesson and heart pounding I said, “excuse me, why is the sky blue?”

“WHAT?!” the frustrated yet shocked response startled me. You see, I wasn’t a typical 5 year old, but a 29 year old PhD candidate.  In fact all 12 of us in the optics class were PhD candidates. We were supposed to be out there looking at the polarity of the blue sky.  I glanced around once more at my classmates, some had a look of complete disgust that I asked such a stupid question, others a look of relief that someone asked other than them and one guy mouthed “you go girl”.  I had one fan.

“You should all know this by now!” proclaimed the professor.  I didn’t recall any call-out boxes in any of my physics textbooks as to why the sky was blue. I didn’t know. Nobody spoke up. So that question became our homework for the night. And yes, I figured it out. You can Google it if you really want to know.

At what point in our lives do we lose our natural curiosity and move into ‘should know’?