Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Greatest Western Thrill of All

When I was a kid, I literally used to dream about stuff like this.

In my mind I was some kind of researcher at NASA, sitting in some kind of office near where Carl Sagan worked (I just thought everyone who was involved in space worked for NASA, naif that I was). It was my job to pore over pictures coming down from the latest space probe. I, of course, wanted to be the first one to see -- or at least recognize -- something new and unusual in one of the pictures I was seeing, like the photo of Jupiter's moon Io that showed its volcanic plumes, or the photo that showed the tell-tale bulge on Pluto that turned out to be its moon Charon. I imagined finding something spectacular, taking the photo and running all over the place, shouting out my discovery.

Then, a few years later, i realized that to be in this kind of job my math skills needed to be a lot better than they are. So that dream faded.

But I still get that weird, I wanna be there feeling when photos like this one crop up. Those looking at it are sure it's evidence of two asterioids in the Asteroid Belt striking each other. Kind of shows that our solar system is dynamic, not static. So again, this week, the old thrill came back, and I was in that cube next to Dr. Sagan, wondering if he had anything else but turtlenecks to wear under his blazers. Maybe someday.

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