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In and On Itself

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4200465824/" title="20091216-001 by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4046/4200465824_2f10e0d694.jpg" alt="Anne smiling" class="img-center" /></a>
"Are we in Singapore or on Singapore?" Anne asked last night while in bed.
"In Singapore, I guess."
"If we're in Singapore, why is it we're <strong>on</strong> earth?"
Whoa. My 4-year old just set me up for a tough question. I struggled with that one, not because I didn't know the answer, but I didn't know how to explain it in a way a 4-year old would understand.
You know, maybe I didn't have to dumb it down. After all, she was the one who asked right?
So here goes.
When we say we're <strong>in</strong> Singapore, we refer to its national boundaries which we remain physically within. We do sometimes say we are <strong>on</strong> the island of Singapore, which would refer to the actual piece of land we stand on.
Likewise, when we refer to Earth, we do not mean an invisible boundary (not until we start parceling out plots of space for condominiums anyway), but the planet itself. Therefore we are on the planet and not <strong>in</strong> it.
Unless we're spelunking.
You think Anne'll understand spelunking?

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