Originating from Old English hwī, hwȳ ‘by what cause’, instrumental case of hwæt ‘what’, of Germanic origin, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word “why” as: for what reason or purpose.
Why is a question that has intrigued us from the moment we could reason, could think, could communicate. How often have you heard a three-year-old ask, “WHY is the sky blue”, “WHY do I need to go to bed”, “WHY does daddy need to take medicine every day, is he sick”, “WHY do I need to brush my teeth” progressing to “WHY are there ‘monsters’ in my mouth (plaque)? If there were no monsters, I would not need to brush my teeth”. The question of WHY surrounds us.
As we grew older, we questioned, “WHY is he bullying me”, “WHY am I always picked last for the team at recess.”, “WHY is the teacher always so mean to me (after all the world revolves around us and we do not see the teacher being equally as tough on everyone else), “WHY does daddy need to take medicine every day, will I need to take medicine every day too, when I grown up?”, “WHY did she love me today, and dating Johnny tomorrow?”, “Why is the sky blue?” Why is one of those questions that have haunted us, and will continue to haunt and intrigue our imagination, curiosity, and need to know and learn until the day we die?
As adults, our question of why becomes more profound and more troubling, more serious, framed around love, or careers, emotion. Questions of WHY, “WHY do I hate my job” (I actually love my job just for the record), “WHY do people not hang up the towel after their shower”, “WHY is my pint of beer never filled to that ‘official’ line”, “WHY does it rain every time you set up a campsite, and again when you are taking it down”, “WHY do we keep making the same mistakes in life”, “WHY does she love me”, “WHY do I need to experience the joys of Crohns and diabetes and take medication every day”, “WHY did he or she get the promotion over me”, and truthfully, “WHY is the sky blue”. After all, it is the three-year-old hanging off of our ankles, that insists on an answer through a “Daddy, why? Daddy why? Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, *tugg* *tugg*, DADDDDDDDY”, that reminds us that we never quite figured out the answer to that question.
So Why is the Sky Blue?
Sunlight is made up of all the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The gas molecules in the atmosphere interact with the sunlight before the light reaches our eyes.
The gas molecules in the atmosphere scatter the higher-energy (high frequency) blue portion of the sunlight more than they scatter the lower-energy red portion of the sunlight (this is called Rayleigh scattering, named for the physicist Lord John Rayleigh). The Sun appears reddish-yellow and the sky surrounding the Sun is coloured by the scattered blue waves.
When the Sun is lower in the horizon (near sunrise or sunset), the sunlight must travel through a greater thickness of atmosphere than it does when it is overhead, and even more, light is scattered (not just blue, but also green, yellow, and orange) before the light reaches your eyes. This makes the sun look much redder. (http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy/planets/earth/Skyblue.shtml)
Pondering the Question of Why?
So why ask the question at all? The truth is, I was driving home tonight from work and you being to shake your head at yourself, your choices, I suppose, simply, your life. Why did we turn left, choose glasses over contacts, have a sweet with your coffee, give a good friend a second, third, fourth, fiftieth chance? Why do we make the decisions we do? Is the answer as simply as….. (you know what I am going to say) …. “because?” Maybe life is not so complicated after all, maybe if you explore all of the simple why’s in life, answering the more difficult ones becomes easier? Just maybe? So what do we have to loose? If nothing else, it is an exploration into the question of “WHY”.
So feel free to jump in and give it your two cents…..