Friday, July 17, 2015

Who decides what goes? New Horizons got me thinking.

The New Horizon spacecraft is carrying Clyde Tombaugh's ashes. He is the astronomer who discovered Pluto. Reading this fact in an article, made me stop and think a bit about who decides what is added as extra payload for such a scientific endeavor and how is the decision made? And what would Tombaugh have thought about it or his family?

Did a panel of people sit and discuss this, throwing out possibilities, conjecturing the symbolic meaning behind what was placed. Or did they only just enter the room when one person said, "Hey,  what do you say we get a tube of Clyde Tombaugh's ashes. He did discover Pluto. Shouldn't he get to take the ride?" And they all nodded. And did they agree because it meant one more thing could be ticked off the list, because it made sense, or because it felt so right there wasn't any better choice?

Everybody has had those moments. Somebody says something and everybody's internal processor says, "That's the answer. There are no others."

We've also have had those moments when we just say, "That will work. We'll go with that, now on to the more difficult business of...."

And we also experience those times when a bunch of people are in a room and have to come up with one decision that all agree with, and we know that's never going to happen, so we start throwing out ideas. Some stick, some are just plain stupid and some sit there slowing gaining traction or like a snowball, keep rolling and picking up momentum and size until there isn't really any chance for any other option.

Or was there another option and the two sides dooked it out for days until someone gave in or most were convinced and that was enough?

And how much trouble was it to get those ashes?

If it was my family that was asked, there would be four avenues to getting those ashes as each one of us kids have a portion of our father's remains. Still it would be tough to even get one flake from us as we are all pretty attached to him and this is all we have left of his physical being. However, of the four, the one most likely to give up a vile of our Dad is me. I would like the idea of him heading off into space. And I can hear him yet. "That's just the shell." Still it was a darn important shell to us. But our dad was full of surprises. Heading off into space certainly is no less amazing then some of the other things he was thought to have done.

He played a role in the Saturn rocket, but what exactly, I can't say. He was as much mystery as surprise. In any case, he didn't go, Tombaugh did. And if Tombaugh was asked about whether or not he wanted to take the ride, I rather believe anyone who went looking for planetary bodies and found Pluto probably would have said, "Hell, yes." My Dad would have said, "Do what you like with my ashes; I won't be needing them."


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