By Dennis Overbye
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii — Little lives up here except whispering hopes and a little bug called Wekiu.
Three miles above the Pacific, you are above almost half the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere and every step hurts. A few minutes in the sun will fry your skin. Brains and fingers go numb. At night, the stars are so close they seem tangled in your hair.
Two years ago, this mountaintop was the scene of a cosmic traffic jam: honking horns, vans and trucks full of astronomers, V.I.P.s, journalists, businesspeople, politicians, protesters and police — all snarled at a roadblock just short of the summit.
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