Saturday, January 19, 2008

IceCube and The Beatles

SOP ("Standard Operating Procedure") these days is to fall asleep in my cubbyhole listening to my iPod Nano to drown out the myriad creaks, clicks, thumps and coughs. This morning, listening to the new Beatles CD, "Love" (a very fun remix by George Martin and his son, released last year), I was thinking how much genius still shows through in their music, 40 years later. How did four kids from Liverpool turn into such a musical colossus? What synergies of place, time, talent and personality had to fall into place, "just so," to create music so new and rich that few others who came after could surpass their contribution ... not even the band members themselves, working separately?

It made me ask similar questions about IceCube (admittedly not as important in the great scheme of things as The Beatles, except to a few of us) -- a three hundred million dollar project in an exotic locale performing (we hope) the amazing feat of detecting cosmic neutrinos. We are all here working together on this project thanks to a sequence of accidents in geopolitics, physics, technology and personality. Many things could have killed the effort at early stages of the game (and some still could). My own involvement in the effort arose out of a similar arc of happenstance; yet there is a certain feeling of inevitability or rightness to it, like a strange song that comes together in the right way.

While I was thinking about these things, "Here Comes the Sun" came on. I chuckled. The sun has been up here since last September.

Now it is night (by the clock only; sunlight blazes across the tack-sharp snowscape all the way to the horizon). We are deploying the 16th string of the season starting around 3 or 4 AM.

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