Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2001, revisted

So December 17th was Arthur C. Clarke's 90th birthday. I actually knew that because of one of the book reports I was reading. but then I saw this news article and then it hit me: just because you're smart doesn't mean you are not a bit loony. He wants us to find evidence of extraterrestrial life. Which is all well and good, maybe life has started somewhere else, maybe chemo synthetic instead of photosynthetic. I'm just the Holder of Useless Knowledge, I don't have any of the good stuff.

But I bet if there are aliens they don't have jasper: this rock formed early in Earth's history when free oxygen was 1st available in the air and as far as I know doesn't form anymore. Our atmosphere is very different now, and any free oxygen is quickly trapped by something else. I could be wrong, (don't tell anyone) but I thought the only free, naturally occurring oxygen was in the ozone layer popping onto an O2 molecule and then popping off ever time UV hits it. Or maybe it's the other way around.

I wonder if they have Koolaid? Or sweet tea? Any civilized place should at least have sweet tea. Maybe not Koolaid. Hey, does that shit get in your nose every time you make it? Then an hour later when you sneeze you do a freak out 'cuz you have orange or purple snot? Me neither.

I wonder if they have an alien version of the Spears' sisters? I wonder if they want them. Sheesh, learn a lesson why don't you!

Any way, back to the original point, or at least the original thought that got me started: space travel. The second closest star to us is Proxima Centauri. It's 4.2 light years away from us. That's 186,000 miles per second times 60 seconds per minute times 60 minutes in an hour times 24 hours in a day times 365.25 days in a year times 4.2 light years times 186,000 miles per second and you get
2,465,279,712,000 miles away
2 trillion, four hundred sixty five billion, two hundred seventy nine million, seven hundred and twelve thousand miles away.
Now imagine driving there. The Space Shuttle's top speed, according to NASA, is 330 miles per hour. It would take 7470544581.8182 hours to get there.
Even at a tenth of the speed of light, 18,600 mi/hr, it would take
132,541,920 hours or
5522580 days
15, 120 years at that speed. Not gonna happen.
So, Mr. Clarke, have another cigar, and spend your time hoping for something possible, like Al Gore admitting he's a liar.

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