Friday, February 24, 2017

Meanwhile, in the Constellation Aquarius

I joke that I became a lawyer in part to run away from hard science and math.  Actually, I became a Republican to run away from hard science.  While my day-to-day is spent in the realm of words and language, I am unabashedly a geek about all things NASA.  It blows my mind, now, that two-plus generations ago, men and women looked up at the stars and the moon and thought, "I bet I can figure out how to build a rocket to transport a person up there." Me?  I would have been the idiot in the corner looking at the moon and thinking, "What kind of cheese?"

I spent a few minutes yesterday morning watching NASA's live feed of two astronauts aboard the International Space Station using the ISS's grappling arm to "capture" the Space-X Dragon craft, which accomplishment led to me clapping and cheering - while seated at the desk in my office. Had anyone else been in the building, it might have been quite embarrassing...although I did feel better when NASA's feed switched over to Space-X Mission Control in California where - at 2:45 AM Pacific Time - people were applauding their success and giving one another the obligatory high-five.  For those who have not performed it - the one-person high-five is (in my experience) rather unsatisfying.

NASA is having a pretty good week, I would say.  On Wednesday, they announced that their Spitzer Space Telescope had revealed the first known system of seven planets (Earth-size) orbiting around a single star.  How cool is that? (Hint:  There is only one correct answer to that question and it sounds quite a lot like "Incredibly F*cking Cool!")  If you are a science idiot as I am, then you might find this explanation of what the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered to be helpful to your understanding. I know that I did.   

Truth be told, the magnitude of what this discovery means is so far beyond my ability to comprehend that I shall never completely understand it.  I am likely to never grasp anything beyond little snippets of it.  And that is fine.  I understand enough to appreciate the wonder of it all...

...and to keep the little boy alive inside of me.  And in times like these, that is something worthy of appreciation. 


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