I stumbled across this short film by Erik Wernquist a few years ago and have returned to it from time to time since then. Everything about it, from Carl Sagan’s narration to the music, is exquisite.
This video, produced in partnership between Apple Music and NASA, is absolutely gorgeous. It highlights the ways in which art and science intersect to make the Juno mission possible.
This quote from Scott Bolton, the Principal Investigator on the Juno mission particularly stands out to me:
The whole spacecraft is set up to send down tones during this critical maneuver when we go into orbit. What they really are is musical notes, that based on what musical note is sent, [communicate] how something’s doing. Is it working well or is it not? And it’s kind of interesting that it all comes down to musical notes, basically.”
I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.
My thoughts exactly.
There is a predictable flow to the way technological advances change society: ideas trickle out of science, into the churn of commerce, after which they drift into the less predictable eddies of art or fashion or philosophy. But sometimes they venture upstream: from aesthetic speculation into hard science.
– Steven Johnson
The full text of the Langston Hughes poem that Tim Kaine cited in his concession speech:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
I recently read the commencement address that Bill Waterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) gave at Kenyon, and the story he told about recreating Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting stuck out to me. After completing the project, he finally asked for permission to do it, but was rejected and had to paint over it. Waterson writes:
Despite the futility of the whole episode, my fondest memories of college are times like these, where things were done out of some inexplicable inner imperative, rather than because the work was demanded. Clearly, I never spent as much time or work on any authorized art project, or any poli sci paper, as I spent on this one act of vandalism.
The sense of joy he found in pursuing that “inexplicable inner imperative” is prevalent throughout Calvin and Hobbes, particularly in Calvin’s infinite appetite for building elaborate snow sculptures. I suspect the zealousness with which he commits to making those snowmen (despite their inevitable demise once the temperature rises) resonates with a lot of creators.
The process of creating something is often just as important as the final product. This is in part because the time and effort required to make something truly extraordinary isn’t justified by what you’ve accomplished. As such, it’s important to listen to those inner imperatives.
One of my friends recently asked me why I like Cookie Monster so much. After all, I wear this goofy hat I found on Amazon multiple times a week and have a little Cookie Monster figurine proudly displayed in my kitchen.
At 23 years old, I’m what some people might describe as “a little too old to un-ironically love a character used to teach kids self restraint and the letter C.” Fine. I get that. And I’ll be the first to admit that there can sometimes be a fine line between fun personal quirk and bizarre obsession.
But Cookie Monster embodies what we all, deep down, want to be. He is our id in its purest form, desperately craving external pleasures and completely unencumbered by those pesky social norms.
I mean just watch him in this video:
Cookie Monster wants to get the cookie, and he will let nothing get in the way of that goal. Plain and simple. His clarity of focus, his passion, and his uncontainable joy for cookies is, frankly, inspiring. There is something truly delightful in his unabashed, eternal quest.
The educational messages of his character are important for kids: You can’t always get what you want. Patience is a virtue. Instant gratification isn’t always possible.
As we grew up and internalized those lessons, we also learned to play it cool. Don’t act too excited. You’re an adult – act like it.
But Cookie Monster’s most important lessons are for adults. Maybe you can’t always get what you want, but if you’re passionate about something, don’t be afraid to pursue it with the reckless abandon of a child. If you have a goal, don’t let anything get in your way. Get the cookie.