By Erik Kennedy
Monday, December 8th, 2014 | 1,613 views
‘Perhaps to be in between two places, to be at home in neither, is the inevitable fallen state, almost as natural as being at home in one place.’ —James Wood
When I was thirteen, in the summer of 1994, the fragments of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter over the course of a week. Like a lot of young anoraks, I was excited by this. A world vastly bigger than my own, subject to forces I could barely comprehend, and then only by comparison with terrestrial examples (x tons of TNT, y number of Hiroshimas): that’s the stuff! I knew that what I was seeing was important for science, but it was not directly relevant. The explosions in the atmosphere of Jupiter were exquisite and amazing, but, importantly, the explosions there had nothing to do with me. I didn’t live there. I could relax as I watched.