Rocket science is so last century. These days babies are born knowing trajectories and fuel weights and all that other highfalutin junk. Just ask one. You may get some garbled secret code language response like ‘Gaga goo-goo,’ but it’s rocket science stuff, trust me.
I’ve always heard that every generation is smarter than the one before it, and I believe it to be true, but if that’s the case why do old people sit around and tell one another “This new generation has got to be the stupidest ever!” Well, I can believe that, too. It is possible to be smarter AND dumber at the same time. For example, a kid today can calculate pi to the seventy-third number, but will get on a skateboard and roll off a cliff.
But I know today’s new generation is way smarter on their worst day than I ever was on my best (which hasn’t happened yet, by the way). Give an average 5 year old a Playstation 3 controller and in 10 minutes she’ll be battling demons, growing a crop of soybeans, watching the latest bad lip-reading video on YouTube, updating her Facebook status, Tweeting the Gettysburg Address in under 120 characters, printing coupons for her favorite ice cream and Skyping with all her kindergarten buddies. At the same time. Hey, it took me over a decade to figure out how to get a four digit score in Pac Man. I’m still working on Tetris. I mean, there’s a BLIND kid now that can work a Rubik’s Cube. I can’t even get two squares to match. Donkey Kong was above my pay grade.
It’s nice to know kids today are smarter than my generation. In the 70’s we played with this thing called Clackers, which were nothing more than two huge glass balls joined together by a long string. The object was to hold the string in the middle and, with an up and down motion of the hand, make the glass balls smash together. Orthopedic hand surgeons made tons of money back in those days. Now kids can point a smart phone at the night sky and tell you the name of every star in the heavens. I don’t think Clackers will be making a comeback anytime soon.
When I was a kid we went into the first grade barely able to tie our own shoes. The most popular reading source was “See Jane Run.” We had to use pencils the size of railroad ties, and were just as heavy. It wasn’t until the 5th grade when we were introduced to multiplication, and then the highest we would go was 12 times 12. These days first graders debate the Theory of Relativity while picking each other’s noses, and discuss fluid dynamics over milk and cookies. It blows me away.
It shouldn’t be surprising, though. The knowledge of the universe can be accessed in a few seconds by a phone, for goodness sake. Wait. I wouldn’t even call it a phone, even though phone calls can be made on it. It’s a Wonder Box to me.
You know, I just thought of something. What would happen if you took a smart phone away from a kid? He’d only be capable of staring at his hands as if the device might at any moment appear out of thin air. Well, to be honest, if you took a smart phone away from a kid your life would be in danger. You don’t want to be bludgeoned to death by a bunch of skateboards. I wonder just how smart today’s new generation would be if we took their computer technology away. Maybe they wouldn’t be much smarter than anyone else. I don’t know. I’d be willing to bet, though, that even without their smart phones and internet, today’s kids would be capable of making missiles out of beach sand and old toasters. It is rocket science, after all.