When a hailstorm destroyed the harvest of a small family-farm in Illinois in 1922, it meant 16 year old Clyde could not enter college. Four years on he had built his own telescope and came across what would later be known as the Kuiper belt. Today, after travelling through space for 9 years at a speed of just under 50.000 km/h, his ashes flew past another of his discoveries, Pluto.
Mind-boggling numbers, as are inherent in cosmology and astrophysics, rarely fail to amaze me. If an event allows to combine those with stories of anthropogenic achievement, individually sparked and collectively celebrated, then that’s probably as inspirational and uplifting as science gets.
I don’t know what kind of person Clyde Tombaugh was, whether I would have found him pleasant or repulsive, and of course that’s not even remotely relevant. The greater the distance, the wider the span of interpretation.
Precise judgement, if at all, is only ever possible at very close range and again is rendered worthless if it does not take the observer into consideration.
This of course refers to Mr. Heisenberg’s findings and allows me to effortlessly jump from astrophysics to quantum physics, only to applaud CERN for another of this week’s scientific breakthroughs, the discovery of a new particle: Grüss Gott, Pentaquark!