Choked up, Gooch, who, after the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue outsold Penthouse, advised his father “to put the clothes back on the girls” (a suggestion that was not heeded), says, “In all these years, he’s never told me what he thinks of me as a publisher . . . It is crazy, pondering all these mysteries of existence when it is so hard to even understand how things work with people you love.”
Then Gooch interrupts himself. He’d been spritzing about one more story he might consider putting in the new Discover: “What do scientists tell their shrinks?”—i.e., is there any place for commonplace neurosis in a life dedicated to casting out myth and delusion “like peeling bark from a tree?” But now a little boy, no more than 4, was running down the planetarium ramp. The boy’s mother, a tourist with a southern accent, was chasing him, which only made the kid run faster, smiling wildly as he wove in and out of the late-morning crowd.
“He’s fearless,” says Gooch, beaming at being one with this brave new cosmos. “He’ll probably grow up to be a scientist.”