Amid all the hoopla surrounding Halloween and the election, the resurrection of the Hubble telescope didn't get much play in the news. They rebooted one computer, fired up another that had been sitting unused in the cold of space for 18 years, and now it's back in business. Most of you probably saw this celebratory picture in the paper or on the web, but it's worth showing again. Because it's cool. And because the Hubble is the second most important telescope in the history of mankind (the first would be Galileo's, the one that first revealed the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, the craters of the moon, and put the final nails in the unwieldy but comforting Earth-is-the-center-of-the-universe model).
It is a picture of Arp 147, two interacting galaxies for the price of one. It looks like one galaxy blasted straight through the center of another, but I'm guessing it's a little more complicated than that. Thanks to Bad Astronomy (and Hubble!) for the picture and the explanation.
My favorite ten words in American political history are "of the people, by the people, and for the people." I'm glad they were quoted on Election Day. And it's movingly ironic that they were first spoken on a bloody Civil War battlefield, and echoed Tuesday by our first black President.
Both McCain and Obama gave excellent speeches that night.
I'll end with a (mostly) non-partisan Election Day memory. 1972, Nixon vs. McGovern, in the midst of the Vietnam War. I'm way too young to vote, but my sister has just turned 18. We're watching TV, and I'm haranguing her to get up off the couch and vote. She relents, we go to the high school, they let us both into the voting booth, laughing all the way. It's one of those old-fashioned ones, with the big metal lever you pull to close the drapes. It goes "shlunk" when you pull it. We vote for McGovern (more accurately we vote against Nixon), and choose the other candidates based on random choise and who has the funniest names. We shlunk the drapes back open, go home, watch more TV.
Nixon won, and was later impeached. The war raged on three more years.
The memory continues to last, far beyond the events of the day.