• “Hey Tommy, guess what?”

    Tommy looked up from the math homework he was working on. His younger brother Adam had a pair of scissors and a piece of piece of white computer paper in his hand. “What, Tommy? Is that going to help me with my math homework, ‘cause I really need some help with these stupid fractions.”

    Adam shook his head. “No, Tommy, it won’t help. Guess what I learned in science class today?”

    Tommy sighed. He didn’t really care right now, but might as well ask or Adam might run to the babysitter like he always did. “What did you learn in school today?”

    “We learned about the atom!”

    Tommy nodded. Finally, his third grade teachers were teaching something cool instead of stupid stuff like the weather or division. Let’s see what he knows so far. “What did you learn about the atom, Adam?”

    Adam smiled, happy to show his bigger brother what he knew. “Well, we learned that everything is made of atoms, and that atoms are made of a nucu-, nucleh-, uhh…”

    “A nucleus?”

    “Yeah, one of those things, with smaller things flying around it, and that atoms are the tiniest pieces of something that you can have; you can’t make it any smaller.” Then he paused. “Why can’t you make it any smaller, Tommy?”

    Tommy shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe that’s just the way things are, and you can’t change it.”

    “Well I think you can make an atom smaller.”

    “No Adam, you can’t. That’s what everyone says, so you can’t change it.”

    “But everyone says that you can’t take stuff from the candy store, and I saw you do it once.”

    “You did? I mean… So what’s with the paper and scissors?”

    “I’m going to cut an atom of paper with the scissors!” Adam exclaimed triumphantly.

    Tommy shook his head. He we go again; his little third grade dweeb of a brother on another one of his crazy schemes again. “You can’t do that, Tommy. People have been cutting paper since forever, and no one’s cut an atom.”

    “How do you know?”
    “Because if an atom can’t be cut in half, and someone does it, then they would get all famous and be in the science and history books and stuff like that.”

    Adam thought about that. “Well then maybe since an atom is so small, it’s really hard to cut because you would keep missing it.”

    “Alright, but how would you know if you cut it?”

    Adam shrugged. “I don’t know, but you probably would if you did do it. So do you want to help me?”

    Tommy considered that. It was either cut paper until something happened, or go back to doing homework. What if they did cut it? Would they become famous? If everyone said that you couldn’t do it, and you did do it, then yeah, you would become famous.

    “Alright, I’ll help you. So we just keep cutting paper until we know we cut an atom?”

    “Yep. I’ll go get the other pair of scissors, then.” He ran off.

    Tommy leaned back on his chair. I wonder how long this is going to take, he thought to himself.


    Three hours later, Tommy and Adam were putting the last of the paper scraps in the recycling box. The babysitter threw a fit when she found out that they had been cutting up paper for most of the afternoon instead of doing homework, and immediately put an end to their plans, without asking any questions. Adam looked really sad, and Tommy wanted to do something about it.

    So after the babysitter went back downstairs to the family room, Tommy poked his head out of his room. “Psst. Adam, you there?”

    Adam looked out of his room and at Tommy. His eyes were a little red. “What?”

    “I think I know how to cut an atom.”

    Adam perked up. “How?”

    “Well, when you cut paper, it’s really thin, right? Well, what if you cut something thicker? There would be more atoms in the thicker thing, which means more chances for you to cut it.”

    Adam sniffed. “But what would we cut? And we can’t get out of our rooms, and we don’t have anything to cut with. "

    “We can sneak out of our rooms no problem, right? And we just have to be quiet.”


    So they snuck down, Tommy using all the tricks that he had acquired over the past few years. They made it to the kitchen, where Tommy grabbed a knife from the silverware drawer.

    “So what are we going to cut?” Adam asked.

    Tommy looked around. There were a couple apples in the fruit basket over there, those might work. He grabbed one and put in on the table. He held up the knife and brought it back down with all of his strength. The knife cut through the top half of the apple.

    “Are you sure this is going to work?” Adam asked.

    Tommy nodded, and swung the knife down on the apple again. He missed the first cut, but he got down halfway through the apple again. He gave the knife to Adam. “Your turn.”

    Adam looked at the knife like it was going to explode, then brought it down on the apple. The apple got a scratch, but not much else.

    “Try again.” Tommy said. “Then it’s my turn.”

    Adam took a deep breath, then swiped again. A deeper cut, but nothing.

    “What the hell are you guys doing?”

    Tommy and Adam turned. The babysitter, Jackie, was running toward them, a combination of fear and fury on her face. She swiped the knife from Adam’s hand. “What were you trying to do?” she asked again.

    Before Tommy could open his mouth and make up a believable lie, Adam said, “We were trying to cut an atom in half.”

    Jackie looked at them. “What? You can’t do that, it’s not possible.”

    “Yes it is.” Adam said. “It just hasn’t been done yet, right Tommy?”

    Tommy looked up at Jackie. “It’s possible, right? I mean, an atom’s really small, so it would be very easy to miss, right?”

    Jackie rolled her eyes. “You can’t split an atom with a knife, guys. You need special equipment and stuff like that, and even if you did, it would cause a humongous explosion, like in those cartoons you watch.”

    “Oh.” Tommy said. He looked at Adam. “I guess she’s right,” he said.

    Adam shook his head. “I think you’re wrong, Jackie.” He went back to the silverware drawer and pulled out another knife. He then whacked the corner of the kitchen countertop. Thwack.

    Jackie walked up to him and reached for the knife. “Adam, give me the knife before you hurt yourself.”

    Adam jerked the knife away from her. “No. Not until I prove it.” He brought the knife back down. Thwack.

    “Adam, stop. Please.”

    Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. “No.”

    “Adam,” Tommy said, “put the knife down.” Thwack. “She’s right, you can’t do –“


    There was a bright flash of light, a rush of hot air, and nothing.


    “…Scientists around the country have yet to identify the cause of the earthquake that rocked the country earlier this evening. Satellite pictures show a giant crater in the middle of St. Louis, Missouri, with debris scattered and pointing away from the epicenter, indicating an explosion rather than an impact. Most of the current hypotheses state that the cause was a nuclear explosion, and pictures of the all-too-familiar mushroom cloud were taken by bystanders tens of miles away. However, none of the radiation that goes along with the cloud has been measured, and physicists across the board are still at a loss for a complete explanation at this time…”

    “…One nuclear physicist has suggested that this was caused by a non-radioactive atomic explosion. He is quoted as saying, ‘It is quite possible, although highly unlikely, that solid objects can strike other objects, with that collision could cause an atomic explosion not unlike the ones caused by atomic bombs, but without the radiation and other related items.’ Now, we have him on right now. Dr. Johnson, if you could explain this theory, please?”