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In which Hank makes a video deciding what to make a video about...for real, while sitting on a bench in Tower Hill in London at night and screaming at his camera while people walk by. It has been an interesting trip to the UK :-)
Good morning John, it is not morning. Obviously. It is night time, it is London and I have been having a fantastic time. And as such, I'm faced with a brutal conundrum of what I should be discussing... in this video! Should it be the powerfully packed humanity of the London Tube or the silly tranquility of Brighton Beach or the Sherwood Forest meets the rich suburb of Hampstead Heath?

Actually those things are pretty easy to cross off the list. When it comes down to it, the two things that I knew I needed to do while I was here in the United Kingdom and the two things that in fact have blown my mind more than I even thought they would...

ONE: The Natural History Museum which Katherine and I got up early so we could be first in line to go into. And yes, the Harry Potter studio tour in Watford. Science versus Harry Potter. That's my brain. I-- this is an easy choice for most people, probably. Even seems like a juxtaposition, maybe choosing between opposites, but not for me.

So let's sort it out, let's sort it out with some superlatives. Let's start with the saddest thing. At the studio tour, there was Albus Dumbledore's office and a mannequin wearing his robes and that made me sad. But that's not going to make me nearly as sad as like, the last skeleton of a dodo. Which... that's a whole species gone, man.

Creepiest thing! Hands down, no question-- the living, breathing Voldemort... doll... thing. I--it's maybe the worst thing I've seen in my entire life.

Most inspirational! Yes, the massive amount of time and money and energy that went into creating every bit of the Harry Potter universe in perfect detail. That is inspiring. But not nearly as inspirational as being in the presence of Darwin's pigeons, Wallace's collection, pressings that were used by Linnaeus himself! Contextualizing myself within the broader history of life on this planet and feeling a direct connection to the people who teased out those truths!

Best architecture! The Natural History Museum is an amazing example of German-Romanesque architecture. It invokes the sacredness of the natural world in a very human way and it does that very successfully. In every nook and cranny there's some other little hidden thing evoking science and nature and it is absolutely beautiful but Hogwarts wins because Hogwarts.

J.K. Rowling versus Charles Darwin. Both slaved away for decades over masterful works, yes. But Darwin's care and independence and fortitude definitely puts him on top. Also he had severe digestive problems, which I can sympathize with.

Best community. All science is collaborative - it is always part of a community. Darwin is certainly no exception. But, Harry Potter, too, is a collaborative work. Jo Rowling's world has benefited from the contributions of a great number of people, whether you're talking about screenwriters and actors, or you're talking about the community of people who have sprung up around it to love it together. Unintended collaborators like myself and Harry and the Potters, and Melissa Anelli, and Starkid. I think the fact that most art projects are not this collaborative and this so clearly in so many ways, to me at least, is--makes this another one for Harry Potter which brings us to a tie.

So yes, I have failed to decide which thing I'm going to make my video about but it turns out that I was able to make a pretty good video out of it anyway. It's like choosing between your children or more correctly in my case, like choosing between my parents!

These are two things that didn't just contribute to how I understand the world, they built me as a person...oddly enough! What I love about science is that enthusiastic perpetual drive toward objective truth and understanding and what I love about Harry Potter is that unironic drive towards objective goodness! Loyalty, and love, and building together something greater than ourselves and something better than ourselves. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone. Those are two things that are really, like, guiding principles of my life and so no, I'm not going to pick between them and yes, I am excited to be able to talk about them here, on a bench, in Tower Hill, in London!

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

[Montage of some #HairForHazel photos]