"By the time I can take people out to where Hubble is looking, they won't be human anymore, by a long way."
This is in some ways a unique idea from sf writers, who in the 1920's and 1930's were more inclined to deal with physical switches; also, you may want to find out more about the "Curtain" that this key controlled.
Compare to the softener key from Larry Niven's 1973 novel Protector.
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'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'
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