"What about spiral galaxies?."
"Well the problem is that C.C. Lin ran into big-time opposition. Another titan of science objected to the Lin-Shu density wave theory, contending that spiral patterns are caused by outside interference - by a galaxy bumping up against another galaxy, let's say - rather than integral. The fight got really bad. Anyone who publicly aligned with one side would get shot at by the other."
"But you've had tenure for decades. Surely you can follow any line of research you like and damn the torpedoes."
He talks about difficulties with funding and getting time on colossal computers required for galactic simulations.
I am sad for him. Nearly fifty years after a vision of cosmic spirals set his imagination on fire, he's still not ready to stir the embers.
"I'm risk-averse," he explains.
I reflect on this in the darkened cabin. I review what I regret in my own life, and realize that being risk-averse is not high on the list. For this I am grateful.
Image: M74 spiral galaxy. Credit: