Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Surly Bonds

"My story really is incredible. It's got a bunch of story lines: the garage-built thing. I'm an older guy. It's out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It's the downside of all this."
This is how Mike Hughes, known to his fans as Mad Mike, described the tale of his launch into what turned out to be the troposphere. Mister Hughes realized his dream of launching his homemade, steam-powered rocket into the sky over the Mojave Desert. He also experienced the consequence of the gravity he never fully escaped, plummeting back to the Flat Earth from whence he came. Mike had no argument with gravity. He took issue with this wacky notion that the planet he came from, and abruptly returned to, is not round. Well, at least not in the globe sense. Mike believes the earth is shaped like a Frisbee. There was no immediate response from Wham-O as to whether or not he was getting an endorsement check for this plug. 
So here's the confounding part: A guy with the mild cleverness to put a steam powered projectile into the air, traveling to a height of more than eighteen hundred feet, would cilng to a notion that has been out of vogue for seven hundred years. Certainly the calculations necessary to plan for such a scheme would include some whisper or sphere. Driving out to the desert on those long straightaways, there must have been a moment where at least the perception of curvature was hinted. 
Or maybe Mike was more focused on the task at hand. In his day job as a limo driver, he most certainly has to keep in mind the shortest distance between two points, and that is the perspective he applied to his mission. Which may have a lot to do with how he got to that point, the apex of his endeavor, before he fell back to the place where he began, give or take the fifteen hundred feet he moved laterally from his launch ramp. 
For his part, Mister Hughes did not  suggest that his brief sojourn would prove that the earth was flat. That  reassurance, he suggested, would come from a new project that would involve a balloon carrying a rocket into the atmosphere before launching even higher than his initial journey across the desert. When asked if he was sure if the earth was flat, he replied in the most scholarly way possible: "Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,Do I know for sure? No. That's why I want to go up in space." And to that I can only respond, Godspeed, Mad Mike. 

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