When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
We have all heard the learn’d astronomer in one form or another. That is, we have encountered a carefully laid out analysis that, while perhaps worthy of applause, seems terribly disconnected from the stars we wish ...