View of a comet’s surface: from the European Space Agency’s photoset at https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/sets/72157638315605535/
Struggling to absorb the wondrousness of Philae, the observatory device shot into space this week to stick to and photograph a comet, I can only fasten on the verb: harpooning. It’s a suitable invocation of an attempt to fasten ourselves to mystery, to the curved back of the large beast hurtling past our limited world and away into its limitless own. Melville would approve.
Except the harpoon didn’t catch. The device bounced, for 2 hours, while “the comet rotated beneath it.” Wow. One scientist’s words I heard were appropriate: even not getting this right, he said [I’m paraphrasing], is not a failure in the grand scheme of things. Because they tried. As artists, and voyagers, and scientists, and humans in general always do and always have. We try. Philae itself (not file…
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