"Obama's An Idiot" is where my political bitches now live. Go ye thereto and read.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Drill Baby Drill!

So, I'm an armchair astronomer. Since I was a mere youngster, I've enjoyed science and space technology.
I don't remember much about rockets and space travel before oh, about Apollo 10, but I do have one of those 'where were you' moments during the Apollo 11 mission when Armstrong took his first steps on the moon.

I also remember standing outside in the middle of winter - I'm guessing it was the winter of '70-'71, Apollo 14 mission - staring at the bright moon high in the sky, freezing my ass off in the crisp night air, talking to my best friend about how "there were actually some dudes up there walking around right now". It seemed to me so plausible, yet it also seemed so difficult to fly someone that far away and have them be able to get back and talk about it.

Think about it. The earth is zipping through space around 65,000 mph. In the meantime, it is constantly turning. Yup, rotating once every 24 hours ;), which even though you may be standing still, you're still moving about 1,000 miles an hour.
The moon is circling the earth at around 2,300 mph. And it is also turning, albeit slower than the earth.
What all this means is that there are some serious calculations going on the get someone to light on that big fucking rock floating around up there.

Think about this: Let's say you're the typical family of four. Let's say you and your family are spending a day at the park. The dad and the daughter are merrily tossing a baseball back and forth, while the son is standing on the merry-go-round as the mom is pushing it.
Now let's say that the dad and the daughter are a fair distance away from the merry-go-round, and also a good distance apart from each other. Mom is turning the merry-go-round at a fair clip, and son - while he's on this merry-go-round and being the brat that he is, is using a slingshot to try to shoot at the ball being tossed by dad and daughter and knock it off course. And even though he may be an excellent shot and can hit any stationary target, without some excellent timing he will have a hell of a time shooting that slingshot at the exact location of his 'orbit', at the precise fraction of a second, at the exact trajectory, at the exact speed needed to hit that baseball flying through the air.

This is very similar to what is required to get a man to the moon and back again.

Now let's say someone wants to send something to Mars, Jupiter or Saturn, which are all hundreds or thousands of times farther away than the moon. Well, it has been done.

On the other hand, we a have a fucking leaky pipe one mile deep in the ocean and no one can figure out how to put a fucking cork in it?:
BP shoots mud at oil as Obama halts drilling plans

ROBERT, La. – BP hoped to know as early as Thursday afternoon if a stream of mud will finally end its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a five-week disaster that was putting other U.S. offshore drilling projects on hold as far away as Alaska
[...]
ANWR is looking pretty good right now, ain't it?


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8 comments:

Cactus Mark said...

You know damned well the moon landing was shot in a studio.

curmudgeon said...

Well, if they were to put a man on the moon then ...

Cactus Mark said...

Of course, there's no telling what they're actually showing on the "spillcam" either.

curmudgeon said...

Probably the smaller of the 8 holes actually leaking.

Billy the Bunyip said...

A great way of explaining the math needed. Back then, they didn't have the high speed mega crunching computers that are available now, so some engineers were probably checking everything with sliderules.

curmudgeon said...

Thanks.
And, I'm sure. That's what I think is so impressive about the whole thing.

Jinglebob said...

Great post and a great way to point out this small problem.

curmudgeon said...

Thanks.
Seems it ain't getting any better.