Bernard Lovell was born in Gloucestershire in 1913.
He was educated at Bristol University and in 1936 became Assistant Lecturer in Physics at Manchester. By 1951 he had risen to Professor of Radio Astronomy, a post he held until 1981.
He was founder and director of Jodrell Bank experimental station (now the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories). He gave the Reith Lectures in 1958, taking as his subject ‘The Individual and the Universe’.
He is the author of several books on radio astronomy and its relevance to modern life and civilisation. His works include Science and Civilisation (1939), Radio Astronomy (1951), Discovering the Universe (1963), The Story of Jodrell Bank (1968), and Voice of the Universe (1987).
He died in August 2012.
I interviewed him in 1992. Here is the full text of our encounter.
You were the son of a lay preacher – on the face of it, an unpromising start for a scientist. How do you look back on your childhood?
Very happily. Childhood remains an extremely powerful influence on one’s life, and although I went through periods of great turmoil, particularly when I got to the university, I’m now extremely thankful in my old age that I had such an almost fundamentalist upbringing. My father’s knowledge of the Bible was greater than that of any other man I’ve met. When he reprimanded me it was always with biblical quotations. But he was a kindly, often indulgent disciplinarian and my memories of that time are really very happy. I had the sort of life which is now very rarely found.
From what I read of your background, there was nothing to suggest the path that you were to follow. Do you think these things depend largely on chance, or do you think they are genetically determined is some way?
That’s an extremely interesting question. My immediate instinct is to say that is all by chance, and that is almost certainly the correct answer since I can see no means by which my subsequent career was genetically determined. My life as a scientist really began at school when I was at an impressionable age. Quite fortuitously I joined a party going to the University of Bristol to hear a series of lectures by Professor A.M. Tindall on the electric spark, and that event transformed me. Before that I had not been interested in science and wanted to leave school and do something else, but after that I just had one ambition, and that was to become one of Tindall’s students.
During the war you worked in the radar research team and your discoveries were crucial to the war effort. Were you aware at the time of the colossal influence you had?
I think not. I imagine you’re referring to the blind bombing device which I was ordered to work on 1942 – very much against my will, since I had to drop the project in hand which was a device against German night raiders. But by the time Churchill summoned me to Downing Street, the situation was entirely different. We had in fact just suffered a terrible disaster: the Halifax bomber I was using had crashed in the Wye Valley and had killed most of my small team, and also the people from the EMI who had been given the contract to make it. Churchill wanted the blind bombing apparatus to be ready by October of that year, an impossible task, but the system was operational by the end of the year. As I talk about it now, it is almost as if one is disembodied; it is very difficult to believe that it was me who was involved in all of that nearly fifty years ago.
The H2S system was also capable of detecting submarines surfacing at night and as Hitler himself acknowledged this proved a major setback in the U boat assault. One imagines that you must have felt exhilarated at the part you played in history, or was it not like that?
At the time I don’t think we realized how dramatic the effect was. It’s only in the historical context, forty or fifty years later, that one sees what a turning point it was. We now know that without it there could have been no invasion of Europe, because the ships would not have been able to bring the American troops across the Atlantic.
Did you ever doubt the morality of what you were doing?
Not then. When the war ended all I wanted to do was to get back to university research. I remember refusing to go on a flight to look at the devastation over the Ruhr and Hamburg; I wanted to forget. But more recently I thought, my God, the device I helped develop led to the devastation of Hamburg. When I wrote my book The Echoes of War [published 1991] I had to read the official history of the strategic bombing campaign, and in the forth volume of that there is a report to Hitler by the police president of Hamburg describing the state of that city after the bombing raids of 1943. It was rather chilling to think that it was the planes that carried our equipment which actually marked out those cities for bombing. But then I immediately had the consoling thought, illustrative of the dividing line between good and evil on all sides: the device that was used to destroy German cities saved us from starvation. Of course the dividing line between good and evil in most of science is a very thin one.
What was your impression of Churchill during your dealings with him?
What one thinks of him from meetings fifty years ago is possibly coloured by everything one has read about him since that time. What I remember most about that particular July 1942 visit to the Cabinet Room was the fact that nearly everybody was terrified of him, even the commanders-in-chief. He was in control, there’s no doubt about that. Another interesting thing was his faith in Professor Lindemann who became Lord Charwell. Churchill regarded Lindemann as his key adviser and would refer any scientific question to him. ‘What does the professor think?’ he would ask. And what the professor thought was usually what Churchill thought, but what the professor thought was very often cause for dismay amongst other senior people at that time.
Was Churchill justified in referring matters to him all the time?
I think not, but on the other hand, it’s an appallingly difficult question to answer today, because if Charwell had not had his way about the priority of the bombing, then our device would not have existed. Therein lay the irony, the thinness of the dividing line once more. People analysing Charwell’s decisions tend to reach an isolated conclusion, and they often forget this remarkable ancillary fact.
In 1952 your dream of a radio telescope was on its way to becoming reality, but the next five years were marked by delays and mounting costs which became the subject of a House of Commons committee. Was it very difficult to keep the faith?
I never lost faith in the project itself, but it was a very difficult time. Scientists like everybody else have instincts, and my instinct told me it was going to be extremely important. If I’d been asked in the 1950s how it was going to be important, I probably couldn’t have given the correct answer, and almost certainly would not have placed so much emphasis on its significance outside the purely astronomical field. So although I never lost faith, I didn’t understand precisely how that faith was going to be realized.
Were you terribly frustrated at the time by all the delays?
It wasn’t so much the delays, it was the attitude of the faceless people in offices in London that was enraging. They hid behind their official positions, they never stood up to be argued with, and they did not understand the situation.
How did you withstand the pressure? Did it not detract from your scientific purpose?
I suppose it must have had an effect, but the irony of the situation was that these pressures began in 1957 when the telescope was nearly finished, and the worst attack came when the other things made it inevitable that a solution be found. If the Russians hadn’t launched Sputnik and we had not been able to demonstrate the unique capacity of the telescope against the carrier rocket I do not know what would have happened. I was under threat of imprisonment because of false evidence which had been given by a government official to the public accounts committee, evidence which could not be contradicted. It wasn’t until two years later that the committee accepted that false evidence had been given to them – that’s almost unique, by the way – and when that was done, then we were clear to move forward.
The prime purpose of Jodrell Bank was to add to man’s knowledge of the universe by radio astronomy, but it was its secondary function in tracking satellites which rescued it from public criticism. Were you disappointed or angry that its primary purpose was usurped in this way?
Not at all, and in any case the primary purpose was not usurped. From the time when Sputnik was launched in 1957 to the landing of the man on the moon in 1969, when interest began to wane, only ten per cent of the operation time of the telescope was used in those activities. Nine-tenths of the time was still used on astronomical work, and some of the most important discoveries in its whole history were made during that period. Besides, the case that I made for the telescope in the 1950s included its use in tracking what we then called earth satellites, for scientific reasons. The only extraordinary thing was the public interest, the amazement at the launching of the sputnik.
Since the telescope was built in the face of a great deal of criticism, did you perhaps view this as a modern manifestation of the long history of persecution endured by astronomers?
I didn’t take it in the personal sense. I took it as an indication of the stupidity of much of the bureaucratic administration. The trouble I experienced was really the beginning of the tightening up on university research and research generally, as a result of which it’s now become so controlled that a place like Jodrell Bank could not happen nowadays. You see, I didn’t come here to do the sort of work that’s being done; the new features in space were encountered more or less by accident. Nowadays if you want to use even small amounts of money to do research you have to write papers to be mulled over by committees and boards and panels, and if that had happened when I came here in the late 1940s Jodrell Bank wouldn’t exist, because I would have been told that what I proposed to do was impossible. The situation is much worse now. In a place like this the young people ought to be doing research; but they’re either away on committees or writing reports, or formulating requests.
It is often said that in terms of supporting research programmes, Britain is one of the least accommodating countries and that is why scientific progress is made in spite of rather than because of government support. How true is that nowadays?
Science is underfunded, but that in my view is not the only problem. It’s also the way it’s organized, and the fact that so many people who ought to be at their workbench doing research, are having to do other things. Scientific research of the sort that I’ve been engaged in throughout my career, apart from the war years, is a risk activity; yet the whole of the bureaucratic structure is designed to prevent people taking risks. Too many people are concerned with the organization of science; an immense bureaucracy has grown up because there has been a terrible lack of understanding of what research in a place like Jodrell Bank means. People get it all mixed up with technological development, but research and development are entirely different things. Research is a risk business which should be financed with relatively small amount; instead equal amounts of money are spent trying to stop the risk being taken. Development on the other hand is another matter – it can be tied to a target. The pragmatic attitude of this country during the last few governments has been appalling. Government ministers pronounce: ‘What is good for science is what is good for the country tomorrow.’ What a lot of poppycock. It was an attitude which began with the 1965 Wilson administration when I was on the Science Research Council. Secretaries of State for Education and Science used to come to our council meetings and demand to know what we were going to do to help the economy of the country. Development and technology may be like that, but not research. And one of the great evils of the structure of science today is the failure to understand this difference.
The system in this country seems designed to frustrate those who possess vision, those who pioneer and invent…
Yes, that’s true, but it is not peculiar to this country. We’ve inherited all this paperwork and bureaucratic administration from the United States where it’s excessive, even more so than here. In order to improve the system the government has to understand that research needs funding and organization separate from development and technology. The other problem is that so many people are involved in these assessments of proposals for research that many of them inevitably have vested interests in the money; that is not an accusation, it is just an inevitable consequence of the tremendous bureaucratic structure.
Isn’t it also true that those who asses projects are sometimes not capable of assessment?
I don’t want to appear to be accusing certain people, but what you say is inevitably true. As soon as you begin to have people who are not deeply involved in the particular subject, you are bound to get bad judgements. But the essence of the whole of research is that you can’t plan it; if you plan it you’ll kill it.
Apropos of funds being allocated by administrators rather than by scientists themselves, you said about twenty years ago, ‘We may enter into another intellectual dark age.’ Did that come to pass?
Yes, I believe we have been in an intellectual dark age for the last twenty years. Please don’t take what I say as a political judgement; it is simply a statement. The dark age was initiated by a Labour government and has been carried forward by both political parties. Regrettably, the government under Mrs Thatcher was pre-eminent in the demand that you put your money in what was going to be good for the economy and the country tomorrow, so things became very bad for science during that administration. I hope that we can recover. The trouble is that so many of our good people have now left the country.
Success at Jodrell Bank was eventually a much bigger and more complicated triumph than could ever have been envisaged at the outset. Did luck play a part, do you think?
I’m never quite clear what people mean when they say luck plays a part. The phrase I prefer is that one creates one’s own luck, which is not meant to sound arrogant or bumptious. Of course the fact that the telescope is still engaged in work of international importance thirty-five years after it began to work is to a certain extent fortuitous in the sense that it was the kind of instrument which could easily absorb the new techniques of electronics and computing. But I wouldn’t use the word ‘luck’.
Your belief in the possibilities of cosmic exploration by radio astronomy was something of an act of faith, was it not? Were there times when you doubted what you were doing?
Never. We built the telescope for astronomical purposes, and although the media interest was on another very important function, that after all was a sideline, albeit an important international sideline which carried us in the middle of the sandwich in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. I don’t for one moment deny the importance of that sideline, but the telescope has always been at the forefront of astronomic research.
In 1962 you addressed a congressional committee in the USA and said you were open minded about the possibility of life existing on other planets. Thirty years later, is your mind entirely closed to the possibility?
Not entirely. It’s a subject on which people tend to make arrogant statements. My own view is that the conditions which led to Earth being a habitable planet are extremely rare in the Universe, and rare in the sense that they’re not properly understood. For example, if biological evolution occurs, does consciousness automatically develop? Nobody really understands this. All I would say is that I think the chances of the present searches for intelligent signals from outer space are more or less doomed to failure, almost on statistical grounds. But undoubtedly one must accept that there are about four billion galaxies in the field of view of modern telescopes and a galaxy contains about a hundred thousand million stars, so even if a small percentage of them have planets you end up with an extremely large number. I therefore don’t think that one would ever ever be able to discount the proposition that life may have emerged elsewhere, but my present feeling is that it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to obtain any proof of that. There is, however, one extremely interesting consideration: the subject known as astrochemistry has undergone tremendous developments in recent years and over one hundred molecular constituents in the great gas cloud of the Milky Way have been identified; and if the emission of amino acids were discovered, and this is by no means impossible, then it would be very hard to deny that biological evolution must have occurred elsewhere. That would throw the whole question wide open once more, and it would be very interesting to see how the theologians would deal with the possibility of demonstrated life elsewhere.
You have been very critical of experiments which risk contaminating space before their effects have been properly studied and understood. Do you have the same rigorous approach to contamination of the earth, the sea, the atmosphere, and so on?
Indeed I do. In the case of the planet Venus we have a very grave example of what could happen. We tracked the first Soviet capsule to descend through the atmosphere of Venus, and the results were quite astonishing. The surface temperature turned out to be so hot that mercury would boil, lead would melt, and the pressure of the atmosphere was about ninety times that of the pressure on earth, and furthermore it was poisonous. As every astronomer knows Venus and Earth are almost twin brothers in the solar system; there is only a few per cent difference in their size and their mass; it is simply that Venus is only ten per cent closer to the sun and therefore much hotter, and the favourable conditions which prevailed on Earth – and which are now being jeopardized by our contamination of the atmosphere – took place at a very early stage in the history of the evolution of the planet Venus. So I think we have a grievous lesson there, though not one which calls for panic. I think the panic a few years ago had a largely political basis.
But do you think that there is ever a real risk of our planet being destroyed?
Certainly, but some of the risks are not fully appreciated. One which I scarcely ever see referred to is the danger of celestial impact. The President of the United States has set up a commission to report on this, because it is not impossible that something could be done about it if one had suitable detection equipment to divert an approaching object. Many of the near-Earth objects which might collide and do collide with Earth get burnt up in the atmosphere, though we know the orbits of only about one per cent of them. The last great minor catastrophe was early in this century when a meteorite devastated an enormous area of Siberia. If it had fallen half an hour later, it would have destroyed the city of St Petersburg. There is also the very powerful and possibly correct theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was due to a great celestial impact, so I think when you ask about the future danger to the terrestrial globe it is not only the man-made devastation which we have to worry about; it is also this other danger I describe which has been present for all time.
Science has become increasingly involved with power…military, political, economic power. Would you agree that power, apart from being enthralling and intoxicating, is often corrupting, and how well do you think scientists deal with this?
Power is nearly always corrupting. How well do scientists deal with it? Very badly I would say, because they are nearly always tools of the society in which they live and work. This, I’m afraid, is inevitable in the present structure of science.
You once said, ‘The post-war belief that scientists could be instructed and science could do what it was asked for the benefit of society was absolute nonsense.’ What prompted such a remark?
I don’t remember the occasion when I made that remark, but I think it’s perfectly true. There’s evidence everywhere in the demands that science should work for the good of the state. The biggest demonstration of that fallacy occurred in 1965 during the Wilson administration when there was much talk of ‘the white heat of the technological revolution’. Blacket used to say, ‘science is a magic wand that will turn a poor country into a rich country’, but after a few months in the new Ministry of Technology he was saying that science was not a magic wand at all, it was just one important cog in a large wheel which determines the progress of society.
Do you think that special conditions pertain in time of a war so that it is morally permissible for scientists to be so instructed by governments?
I can only speak from my own experience of World War II, when as far as I was concerned, there was no alternative. As young people we had been living under the shadow of Hitler’s Germany and war had become inevitable, and in the period after Munich we were just desperate to do something to change this awful state of affairs. And part of being a good citizen demands obedience to the state. Of course it’s an entirely different matter if in peacetime one opts to go into a military establishment to make weapons of destruction.
Have you ever had cause to regret the use to which some scientific discovery has been put?
I don’t think so. You see, my only involvement in those matters was when I was ordered in 1942 to make a destructive weapon which in the end, entirely accidentally, turned out to be the weapon of salvation of this country. You’re asking questions which belong to the whole of the civilized world and certainly to society as a whole, not so much to individuals. But in times of national emergency, in times of war, it is one’s duty if one is a good citizen to work for the state.
Would that equally apply to the enemy?
Of course. That is one of the dilemmas of mankind.
What is the greatest difficulty facing radio astronomy today?
Many people would immediately answer ‘lack of money’, but that would not be my answer. Mine is rather more fundamental. Science has developed in a technological, highly computerized way, and although the most marvellous work is being done by young people, much of it has tended to be along given lines of development. It is very difficult to prove this, but technology may have actually closed off opportunities for new discoveries. There have certainly been none to compare with those in the decade 1950-60 when everyone’s mind was more open. I find it hard to believe that in the second half of the twentieth century man has been privileged to discover all that there is to be known about the universe, I just cannot believe that, and it worries me that all the breathtaking discoveries since the war have been limited to one decade.
Presumably you would agree that knowledge should always be tempered by humility towards what is yet to be discovered. How difficult in practice is it to achieve this?
Arrogance is a major problem with a lot of scientists today, arrogance in the face of new discoveries. But experience leads one to the conclusion that there is no final answer. You solve one problem, and in solving that problem you raise a whole host of new problems. When our telescope came into use in 1957-8, I was convinced that we would find major answers to the origins and evolution of the universe, but the discoveries we made simply deepened the problems which have to be solved. Progress brings its own complexities in a very dramatic way, and when people talk of knowing the mind of God and coming face to face with God, that is the antithesis of the humility which is necessary to progress.
One has the impression from reading your books that you are a man all but overwhelmed by the immense complexities of your own undertakings. Did you ever doubt the wisdom of embarking on such undertakings?
I was never overwhelmed by the practicalities, at least as long as I was director and they were under my control. But I was overwhelmed by the intellectual, theological and philosophical import of the task.
Your interest in man and the universe seems, curiously for a scientist, to border almost on the theological…why is that?
Because I think it’s one of the great intellectual problems which faces the civilized world, and I feel very humble before it.
If you contemplate the origin of the universe, do you still have to part from the realm of scientific observation and knowledge into that of philosophical speculation? Or has science cracked it, do you think?
Science has not cracked it, and I think it is inherent in the fundamental laws of nature that science will never crack it. Science has apparently penetrated very close to the origin of the universe in which we live, but what kind of origin it had is quite unknown and never will be known. It is a matter of the utmost arrogance when scientists claim that they can investigate and understand from a purely material point of view how the universe came into existence; they do not understand that their conclusion is inhibited by the fundamental laws of physics.
Are you satisfied that modern telescopes penetrate to the limits of the observable universe? Is there anything beyond which is not observable?
Modern telescopes penetrate into regions of space time which takes us back more than ten thousand million years. This takes us to a condition when the universe was a very hot compact of radiation. We subsequently developed into the granulated structure of galaxies and stars which we see today. Whether that means that we comprehend the universe is another matter. Cosmology has become very highly theoretical, and theoretical speculations, alas, now lie in regions of space time where I think there is no possibility of penetrating observation. You reach a stage where you have to infer to an earlier time, and some of the best brains in the world are at work on the inference to this earlier time, but as in all science if a particular solution is found, then a whole host of other problems will be revealed.
Although you deny any sort of religious fervour, religious belief clearly plays a part in your life. How important is that side of things for you?
It is very important in a particular way. I have a passion for the organ and the Church to me is associated with some of the greatest music that has ever been written. Every individual has his own reaction to the question you’ve just asked, and that is mine. I go to church regularly, but I must say it is the ethos and the music which always take me.
But what about real faith? Do you believe in God?
It’s incredibly difficult, having been brought up by a very powerful parent, a lay preacher in the faith, to rid oneself entirely of the feeling that hell is below and heaven is above; this is all part of the very powerful synthesis that survived into the middle ages. We still use these idioms in our daily lives – we talk about the sun rising and the sun setting, whereas we know in fact that it is the earth which is rotating. Of course I cannot share the anthropomorphic image of God that my parents had; few people do nowadays, but that doesn’t stop them being deeply religious. Science for me is only part of existence, and although my life would be entirely different without it, a lot of my life has been lived outside the scientific world.
In times of personal crisis, would you seek refuge in religion?
I had a personal crisis a year ago, so I can answer that question. My wife suffered a severe stroke, and although she is still alive my intellectual companion of fifty-four years was effectively removed from me. My duty has been to have her attended to and to make her as comfortable as possible. In other words my reaction to that sort of crisis has been entirely practical.
Since religious belief is by definition an act of faith, and to that extent quite irrational, it is difficult to see how that is to be reconciled to science which is only concerned with demonstrable truths.
This is part of the synthesis which is necessary. I think it can only be approached with humility from both sides of the divide. Some of the sermons I listen to make me mad, but occasionally you hear a sensible approach being taken to these questions.
Do you believe that science and religion are different paths towards the truth? Is it the same truth, or a different truth?
It must be the same truth in the end; they are different approaches to the ultimate truth.
Early astronomers were persecuted on religious grounds. Do you think the Church had made advances in proportion to those made in astronomy?
No. One despairs sometimes of the attitude in the established Church and its lack of guidance and coherence in important moral issues. When one sees this failure it makes me feel that it’s all the more important that the Church should become a coherent body in its statements of belief and attitudes to the modern world. Again it is a question of humility, this time from the leaders of the Church and theologians.
In 1958, when you gave the Reith Lectures, you said apropos the origin of the universe: ‘The optimism is tempered with a deep apprehension born of bitter experience that the decisive experiments nearly always extends one’s horizons into regions of new doubts and difficulties.’ Did that continue to be the pattern?
I’m glad you’ve quoted that since it encapsulates all that I have been trying to say about these new discoveries. I’d completely forgotten I’d said that thirty odd years ago, but how much I still agree with it now, and all that has happened since then illustrates that it is the case.
You mentioned feelings of fear and humility with which you approached the lectures. Were these born of a consciousness of the limits of your knowledge?
No. It was a consciousness of the misuse to which scientific discoveries can be put. At that time the intercontinental missile had just been used by the Soviets to launch a purely scientific satellite, but, since sputnik, space has become militarized. About ninety per cent of the rockets which have ever been developed for space activities have also been developed for military purposes. That is where I saw the fear, and that fear manifestly still exists.
What do you think has been the greatest contribution made by radio astronomy?
In the broadest terms, the extension of man’s penetration into the universe. Beforehand, the 200-inch optical telescope was believed to be the greatest instrument possible since it could penetrate some two thousand million light years into space. That was the extent of our knowledge of the universe. But radio astronomy broke that barrier, and has continued to do so.
What do you think of Stephen Hawking whose books on cosmology have notched up millions of sales worldwide?
I don’t think I’m going to answer that. Scientists have generally been very reserved when faced with that question.
Why is that?
Hawking’s terrible physical state places great inhibition on any criticism. He has undoubtedly contributed substantially to theoretical astrophysics, but the question as to whether there is any degree of uniqueness or any lasting quality in his theories cannot yet be answered.
I believe you have very mixed feelings on being a public figure. What has been the most difficult aspect of that?
When I look back on those dozen years when I was under constant public gaze and the BBC were around all the time, I think I was extremely fortunate in having journalists of such integrity who understood that I would do my best to answer their questions, and left it at that. They didn’t do what they tended to do now, to penetrate one’s private life. Occasionally, if they phoned me at home, they would nearly always apologize. I would hate to have that sort of public pressure now; I think it would be an horrific experience. I very rarely come face to face with journalists today, so my judgement is based only on what I read; and what I read about in the papers fills me with alarm, and makes me feel jolly thankful that I don’t have to face the public press now as I did in the 1960s.
Looking back, would you say you have had a hard life?
Yes, but a hard life of my own making. Even now, there’s no reason why I should keep going to the office. Ten years ago when I retires, I could have just gone away, but it was inconceivable. It never entered my head that I could walk away and sit in the deckchair in the sun. I’d hoped I might spend more time doing other things, but even that doesn’t seem to have materialized.
As a scientist, do you believe in an afterlife?
Not in the sense of an anthropomorphic state. I’m always intrigued by the problem of the cosmic ethic, but it’s very difficult to talk about this because it’s one of the problems one’s still trying to enunciate. It does occasionally seem to me to be exceedingly difficult to deny the existence of an all embracing cosmic ethic, but I don’t think anybody understands this. I certainly don’t. I suppose that something of one’s own ethic must survive, inevitably so, in its influence on society. I cannot believe in the simple form of afterlife that I was brought up to believe in, but that is not the point. I think there is something much deeper than that about the universe which is not understood, and that is the only way in which I can answer your question. It’s tempting to say, ‘I just don’t know’, but I don’t think that’s an adequate answer; there is a more positive answer than that, and I would hope one day to be able to talk about it more clearly than I can now. Cosmology is one thing, but there is something ill-defined beyond cosmology; this is a major problem between science and things which are not science. I don’t think there are any real answers at the present time, but I would never give a final negative. I prefer to say I’m still thinking about it.