Thursday, December 14, 2006

And miles to go before I sleep...

In a brief speech at the 2006 Nobel Banquet in Stockholm last Sunday, this year's chemistry laureate, Roger D. Kornberg, spoke beautifully on the joy and labour of a life devoted to the pursuit of fundamental scientific knowledge.

Towards the end of his speech, Kornberg quoted from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost thus:

Even as we celebrate, and savor this moment, the work goes on. I am reminded of some lines from the American poet, Robert Frost. During the long, arduous effort of the past 20 years, I often repeated these lines to myself. I view them as a kind of metaphor for science and our ongoing commitment to it.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep...For me, that refrain alone is enough to prove Frost's greatness. Such haunting beauty. I defy you to ever forget it. Frost does that to you. Speaking of haunting art, I once used that word, "haunting", to describe the effect of some piece of art, cinema or literature or music, I forget, to a friend. He seemed puzzled by this and asked: "Why would you want to be haunted?" I'm not sure what my answer was at the time, but I've just realised I should have said that haunting comes in many varieties.

Here's Frost again, at his haunting best, Fire and Ice:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

New York Times Luxury Destination of the Year

Have a look at this:
© 2006 The New York Times Company

It's a picture from a New York Times special on the best destinations of the year 2007. Yes, 2007. (What's past is prologue, eh?) It's from the section on Luxury Destination of the Year. (Feast your eyes on a larger version here.) Can you guess where it is? I'll give you as many goes as you like. Was Zambia one of them?

That is the good work of Robin Pope Safaris in Mfuwe in the South Luangwa National Park located in the Eastern Province of Zambia. What could be better, a combination of great natural beauty and great human ingenuity? Breathtaking. Click the link to book now...:). No, they didn't pay me to say that.

Here's the full story.