Homesick at the top of the world…

Professor Brian Keating
4 min readApr 2, 2024


Embarking on my most recent trip to Chile to contribute to the Simons Observatory is a mixed bag for me. It represents not just a professional zenith but a poignant journey of loneliness, self-discovery, and emotional depth. This project, a beacon in the realm of cosmology, will provide insights into the universe’s infancy, promising revelations that could redefine our cosmic understanding. Yet, the gravitational pull of my family life introduces a profound counterbalance to the thrill of scientific pursuit, weaving a complex tapestry of sacrifice and fulfillment.

The act of leaving, akin to the U.S.S. Enterprise setting its course through the cosmos, is imbued with purpose and determination. Yet, a countdown begins from the moment of departure, marking the time until return. This internal clock, obsessed with the return journey, questions the nature of commitment — am I too emotional, too tethered to the comforts of home? Yet, this reflection reveals a deeper truth about the human condition: our strength is not diminished by our longing but enriched by it.

My recent seven-day sojourn in Chile embodies this dual existence. The anticipation of returning home dominates from the moment i leave the house and only grows each day, mirroring the Enterprise’s inexorable attraction to Earth’s embrace. This longing is diminished slightly by the good friends and colleagues I have here in Chile and by the wonderful spirit of the Chilean locals. But it is exacerbated by the presence of my children only via FaceTime…their innocence and joy, even in my absence, only intensify the longing, illuminating the path home and transforming it into a journey of heart and spirit. The realization dawns that choosing a life partner and creating a family are decisions to create another kind of universe, the most important in the whole Multiverse!

The arrival of our first son in 2011 and my first journey here soon after intensified this connection, turning fleeting moments into milestones, each minute with him and his siblings a precious thread in the fabric of life. These experiences, even amidst my current confines in a middle seat on LATAM Airlines flight 602 from Santiago to LAX, underscore a universal truth: our lives are defined not by the accolades we gather but by the connections we forge and nurture.

Thus, the bittersweet symphony of professional achievement and personal sacrifice plays out, a reminder that in pursuing the extraordinary, we must not lose sight of the ordinary moments that define us. While a milestone in the quest for knowledge, the Simons Observatory project also serves as a beacon, guiding me back to the essence of life — love, family, and the simple joy of being together. Though fraught with trade-offs, this journey reaffirms the belief that the true measure of our lives lies in the balance we achieve between our ambitions and our hearts.


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When the JWST captured the first images of the earliest galaxies in our universe, scientists were shocked.

The galaxies appeared to be way too bright, way too big, and way too mature to have formed so soon after the Big Bang. This discovery has, rightfully so, sparked a massive debate among astrophysicists. Some even started to question the standard model of cosmology.

However, using new simulations, some astrophysicists decided to investigate this controversy. Among these extraordinarily talented and bright minds is today’s guest, Chris Hayward, founding member of the FIRE project.

Tune in to discover the truth about the mysterious brightness at cosmic dawn!

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Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner