..A Touch and yet not a touch





“Astronomy is not terribly important,” he said. He fell silent for a moment, admiring Arcturus. Then he said, “Although it is one of the more important things we do as a species.” He did not see any contradiction there. He said, “Being an astronomer, it’s easy to get a sense of futility about it all. I am afraid we don’t live very long. The species won’t live very long, either.” He gave a kind of sigh. “When one is a child, one doesn’t have a sense of purpose—and that, I suppose, is one of the many extremely good things about being a child. You get a little older and you get a sense of purpose. Young scientists, young people in general, are so terribly serious. They think they know where they are going. We become adults when we decide it’s not so serious, after all.” He paused. “But the sense of wonder never goes away. I guess that’s why I like it up here. It’s seventy feet closer to the stars.”

——First Light by Richard Preston