Cosmic Wonder: Teen author’s exploration of the galaxy’s great mysteries gets rave reviews

Cosmic Wonder: Teen author's exploration of the galaxy's great mysteries gets rave reviews

Unlike most of us, Nathan Hellner-Mestleman knows his place in the universe.

On this particular lunch hour, it was in the science lab at Mt. Douglas Secondary in Saanich, at least in earthly terms.

“We are moving through the universe at 600 kilometres a second, so when we started this interview, that was about 15 million kilometres away,” he says.

It’s tough to process, unless you’re a big picture-type. “In summary, I’ve been a bit of a nerd most of my life,” he adds.

Call it what you will, but Hellner-Mestleman’s mind never stops turning, pondering the mysteries of our universe. According to the Grade 11 student, all brains are capable of grasping enormous concepts, it’s just a matter of using our brains.

“Every cognitive thought that has ever been thought in the history of humanity has been done by like, three pounds of meat,” he says.

Hellner-Mestleman’s brain may be slightly larger than most, and it’s propelled him to publish his passions on paper. He’s written a book called “Cosmic Wonder: Our Place in the Epic Story of the Universe.”

If it sounds large-scale, that’s because it is. But the ideas of how we got here, where we’re going, and are we alone are phrased in bite-sized concepts anyone can understand. Just don’t call it a kid’s book.

“Book stores when they started carrying it, put it in the kids and babies section,” he says. “I had to write a letter saying I was going to get hate mail from the parents of existentially depressed children.”

The 16-year-old mixes humour with keen insight, and the fact that his first book is well-received is no surprise to his teacher, Neal Johnson.

“He’s not even a once-in-a-generation kid that you teach. He’s like once in multiple generations,” says Johnson.

Johnson said he and other staff identified Hellner-Mestleman at the age of 12 at a science event, and knew right away he was special.

The book has caught the attention of CBC science legend Bob McDonald, host of CBC radio’s Quirks and Quarks. McDonald will be introducing Hellner-Mestleman at the book launch event May 7 at Bolen B0oks.

Even for an expert, there’s something in those pages.

“It’s stuff I already know, but he says it in a really digestible way, and that’s the magic of it,” he added.

The book can be purchased through various retailers, including Amazon.

Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

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