James Van Allen, Rest in Peace

Senior year of high school, my friend and I usually took the stairs up to our after-school astronomy analysis-monkey internships on the top floor of Van Allen hall. One day, he arrived late to lab, crowing, “I just met James Van Allen in the elevator!” – a measure, perhaps, of the respect Iowa City had for its most famous geophysicist. Or else of how absurdly nerdy we both were.

Whatever the reason, I’m still sad that I’ll never be in an elevator with the man who, among many other professional accomplishments, discovered the force behind the aurora borealis. And I hope that I too can live a decade longer than the person who pre-writes my obituary.

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