Saturday, October 10, 2009

Witlings Watch Science, Unimpressed

So, NASA slams a couple of left-over bits of the LRO into the Moon -- very tiny bits in proportion to the size of the Moon or even the crater they bullseyed, smack on time and target -- and what I'm finding is news stories with a lot of whining about how people "expected something bigger."

Then there's Amy Ephron, who wanted to, "...suggest something (that I actually sort of believe), like, 'What if it somehow throws off the astrology?'" Gah. Well, sweetie, the Moon didn't break; you're on your own with the astrology part.

If it wasn't shiny enough or if it was too icky-scary, go watch a movie, kids. This is what happens when you feed people bullcrap physics like victims being bowled over when hit by a shotgun blast, even more so when Film Hero shoots the thing and does not so much as wobble from the recoil. (Einstein? Who he? They can't even get right with Newton! Chandrashekhar or J. C. Bose[1] would make their widdle heads go 'splodey) This is what happens when marooons take in Star Wars and Armageddon as if they showed the Real Deal. People buy into the crap, ever so much flashier and more loud, mysterious and alluring than the reality, which is about hard things like math and scrubbing floors.

Film and TV fiction Is. Not. Real. Watch NASA TV a little; they stream live (or taped) feeds from actual, you know, spacemen and women doing actual work in actual "zero-g"[2] aboard and outside ISS and elsewhere. You even see real live docking and undocking and (OMG!) 0ther than thuds and clangs when a vehicle's in contact with the station, it doesn't make a sound. No whoosh, no bang, no musical soundtrack and the rocket exhaust looks piffling. Mind you, we're talking about people -- ordinary, geek-type people very much like us, or me anyhow -- surviving in an unbelievably hostile environment; or, in the case of LCROSS, managing, with ease and flair, a long-term, long-distance stunt that would boggle any Bond villain. But that's not enough for the ijits, who want a loud sound and bright flash so they'll know they got their money's worth.

NASA bombed the moon. They did an excellent job of it and they have a lot of data to analyze; the results will be available by and by. If you're upset it didn't look like Buck Rogers, that's a problem with you, not NASA.
1. Personal hero; working in what amounted to a one-car garage only not as nice, he doped out microwave behavior, invented waveguide, RF polarizers and the double-prism attenuator (etc.), built the first solid-state diodes, and did it all in the late 19th Century; and that's only a part of his accomplishments. He helped build your world and you've never even heard of him.
2. Strictly speaking, it's really "microgravity."


perlhaqr said...

"It might throw off the astrology"

Oh. My. God.


BobG said...

It's amazing when someone with a college degree writes and article and doesn't know enough science or math to get through the seventh grade.
And scary part is that they let these same people vote and drive cars.

Tango Juliet said...

I hope it doesn't throw off the astrology.

Do I get a Nobel now?

Jeffro said...

So, what - are you telling me that when the Enterprise took a phaser hit and dumped Kirk into Uhura's lap - that was just Hollywood?

Oh, the horror, the horror.

Anonymous said...

I think that expectations would have been a tad lower if NASA had not run the Hollywood style animation of what was going to be happening in a few minutes.

NASA might also have taken a cue from saturday afternoon sports and put up a pointer to show the impact point and an announcer to explain that what we are seeing is what was expected.

My wife was baffled when I asked out loud, "I wonder if we'll see anything." She had bought into the animation, see...

Brian Dale said...

Well, it's only natural that some folks would feel let down. They've been selling "Nuke the Moon" t-shirts for years now. {wink}

Seriously: on time and on target gets a Bravo from me.

Brian Dale said...

addendum: I just read Amy Ephron's piece; that is just so special! The equivalent of a ton and a half of TNT--OhNoes!

She asks, along the way, "I'm just wondering: who gave them permission to crash into the moon?" Amy, if you're reading this, now you'll know:

I did.

Best Wishes.