Other people were preparing landing parties that evening. I imagined them huddled around their screens, cheerful in anticipation, and sharing a strange worry for the fate of a little robot leaving its mothership somewhere in deep space. Words like perihelion spoken as if in soft incantation, and November outside could not touch them. They of Earth were bound together by the presence of greatness, greatness of something they felt they were a part of. Divinity of us, humanity.
I almost felt it too.
Isaac had said he could see further by standing on the shoulders of giants, but all I could feel now was standing under the weight of their gaze. In the hallowed marble halls of The Royal Society, painted and long dead but piercing nonetheless, their eyes asked: The field is fought — who walketh there?
There's two kinds of veneration, you see. One makes you soar, and another one keeps you down.
Later, while Philae was landing, I was standing behind the lectern and speaking. Weaving a story and stumbling here and there. A dark grey suit and a carefully ironed new shirt make adequate armor, in the presence of greatness.
Questioning and defending peer review and preaching about new ways to do it, feel a little mundane given both the venue, and the moment in history. Nonetheless, below is a video of my contribution to the scientific endeavour on November 12th, 2014, at the CrossRef 14 conference.
Or maybe instead of watching me talk, just watch a music video. Who says we cannot have soundtracks for science!