The Sky in their Eyes


Adam’s philosophy was literally to always look forwards. Every morning he would get on the 7:54 train, sit down and catch up with the yellow press. He wouldn’t look away from his newspaper until the electronic voice announced his stop. After the day of work and before the sunset, he would sit on his couch, looking straight at his TV. Violent scenes and crimson blood would keep him from going out.

One regular Friday morning Adam walked into the station, bought his newspaper, and headed to the platform. What was normally a friendly empty space was now full of young people who had not yet seen their beds. Adam pushed, and squeezed, and turned around the crowd to approach the rails.

When the train finally came, the crowd dragged him inside, making him drop his paper on the way. Stuck as he was between the people, he couldn’t even take his phone out to read something. He couldn’t even look forwards, as an angry drunk woman stood in front of him. She didn’t look like the kind of person who enjoys staring. So for the first time in a long time, Adam looked sideways.

At his side was Kailee, a Hawaiian girl with blue eyes and bags under them. Adam was aware his first thought was selfish: “What is this person doing in my train?”

The answer to this question was something of a mystery even for Kailee. She went with friends to a concert the past night. The crowd separated them in the middle of the band’s most famous song. She met a cute guy, and ran away from him because he was singing the lyrics wrong. She found her friends again, had a fight because she felt abandoned, and went back into the crowd. She ended up in the train station earlier than she wanted to be. The drunk scary woman pushed her half a meter as she stepped into the train, and that’s where Adam spotted her. Kailee looked into his eyes. Unused to the human contact, Adam turned his head away.

Close to him he spotted Jovann, a short guy with dark blue eyes. A girl had dragged him to the concert, where he had found out she was there to meet somebody else. He stormed away from her, and bumped into a childhood friend. He spent the night with him and remembered their childhood dreams. A girl in the group kissed him in the middle of her musical ecstasy. Then a fight at the end of the concert separated Jovann from his old friend and the new girl. Unable to find them, he walked back to the train station, got in the train, and looked at Adam, who once again looked away.

Sky was not coming from the concert. She had woken up early in the morning, got a cup of tea and got it spilled on her blouse by the pushing crowd. She had missed her 7:48 train and ended up on the 7:54 train that Adam never missed. When their eyes met, Adam couldn’t look away, not this time. Sky’s look seemed to say “I don’t normally spill tea on my blouse”, and Adam’s said “I don’t have anything to do with them”. Sky smiled in understanding. Adam wanted to say something romantic, he really did:

“I dropped my newspaper” was all that came out.

“I missed my train” was her reply.

All his life looking forward, and now Adam couldn’t keep his head straight. Those blue eyes scared him and drew him closer at the same time.

“I’m, I’m glad you missed that train”.

“Me, too”.

One must add for the sake of romantic consistency that if Adam had looked a bit further between the faces, he would have spotted Violet, who was coming back from the concert. Although Adam and Violet would have been attracted to each other at first, she soon would have found him insensitive. “You don’t see me like I am at all!” would have been her final sentence before breaking their fleeting relationship. So it was quite fortunate for Adam to look at Sky instead.

The Science behind the Story

This story answers the classic childhood question “Why is the sky blue?”. The light coming from the sun is a mix of all colours. When this light hits the atmosphere molecules it gets scattered in different directions. However, cool colours like blue and violet are around 10 times more scattered than warmer colours like yellow and red. That is why when we look at the sun, most of the light that comes straight to us is yellow. This is the yellow press that Adam looks at, or in the physical scenario, looking straight into the sun. Please never look straight into the sun!

At sunset, the light goes through more air and the effect is even more pronounced, so the light turns more reddish. This is the crimson blood and the violence Adam watches in the evening shows.

The blue and violet light gets scattered away from us at first, but then it comes back and we see it coming from the sky, rather than from the sun itself. That is why in the story people have gone through lots of random events to get to Adam’s train, but eventually their blue eyes meet Adam.

And the final question: why is the sky not violet? Because just like Adam, we are less sensitive to this colour. There is also less violet in the light coming from the sun, and some of it gets absorbed by the atmosphere, too. This is portrayed by people blocking Adam’s view in the story.

So next time your kids ask you why the sky is blue, tell them Adam’s story and don’t just reply “cause I say so”.


Photo from Pixabay, used with license CC0 Public Domain.


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