Monday, April 21, 2008

Pink Moon

Lil Hucky, the little Clowncars and I ventured out at sunset to watch this month's full moon (called the pink moon, Hux tells me, named after trees that bloom pink blossoms this time of year). We do this fairly often. It was cloudy, so the moon was less than spectacular, but I learned a little trick. We always park in the same spot to watch moonrise, and we always guess where on the horizon it will come up (the person with the closest guess "wins"). And while we were sitting there in the car, an extremely simple way to predict where the moon will rise occurred to me: look where your shadow is pointing! That is where the moon will rise. Cool, eh? And so simple. This'll only work for a full moon (as the sun and the moon are only directly opposite each other then), but, at least this time, it worked like a charm. My obsessive interest in orbital mechanics pays off!

Sadly, I told my family immediately upon figuring it out and thus cannot use my newly-gotten knowledge to win the moonrise guessing game. I can only use my powers for good, not evil. I'm like Gamera!

In other news, I found an answer to the baseball-thrown-from-the-space-shuttle question at the Straight Dope. Not an unimpeachable source, but a pretty good one. And amusing to boot. According to them, throwing the baseball toward Earth, or away from Earth, will not affect the orbit of the baseball at all. As Larry Niven (a GREAT sci-fi writer) puts it, "East takes you out, out takes you west, west takes you in, and in takes you east." Orbits depend upon speed. If you don't change the speed of the baseball, you won't change the orbit.

So, the only way to change the orbit of the ball so that it'll fall to earth is to throw it straight back from the shuttle, to slow it down. But (and the math here is seriously over my head, so I'm trusting the Straight Dope) a ball thrown at 92 mph wouldn't come close to getting it out of orbit - you'd be able to drop the orbit a 100 miles or so, but not all the way to Earth.

Atmospheric friction would eventually bring it down. But our premise here is a crowd at Yankee Stadium waiting for the ball to fall so the ump can shout "Play Ball!" And unless the crowd is willing to wait a few years, it's not gonna happen. Those Yankee fans are a notoriously impatient lot.


Eric Shonkwiler said...

Wild. I think I just learned something. And understood a part in a cartoon.

Victoria Gothic said...

Quite so; I said I was in high school physics, not that I was any good at it, which seems to be the case. Bah, if only he would talk of the philosophy of nature upon science I could show them all up, but he insists upon focusing his studies with this tool called, ‘math’ of which I am unsure of how to use.

Interesting discovery with the moon rise phenomena. I’ll put it to good use next time I await a full moon by which to write a night ballad.

Irrelephant said...

What they NEED is a rail gun, like a huge Gauss gun for baseballs, so they could sort of unlimber this massive artillery piece from the shuttle's payload bay, figure the re-entry window so as to aim it at where a Yankee's player is going to be by the time the rotation of the Earth brings him into line and fire that joker. A re-entering baseball traveling at several thousand miles an hour fired from a massive rail gun. Yeah, THAT'LL break orbit.

'Course it'll also probably turn the catcher into a human torch when it impacts him.

Jo said...

How could I have not heard of a PINK moon until now???

I looove Max & his beasties--Let the wild rumpus begin!

Eric Shonkwiler said...

I'm with Irrelephant.

Also, regarding the last post/comment: "belies an unhealthy interest in monster movies." This from the man whose picture is Gigan.

Clowncar said...

Glad to help, Eric. Was it a Road Runner cartoon you now understand?

Writing a ballad by the light of the full moon. What a romantic idea, Vic! You don't just talk the talk, you walk the walk! Good for you.

Gauss guns! Cool! The railgun was my favorite weapon in my Quake-playing days. And there is NOTHING wrong with turning a Yankee into human Baked Alaska. I hate the Yankees with an intensity bordering on lunacy.

There's a good Nick Drake song about the Pink Moon, Jo. Though it got used n a car commercial, which lessens my love of it considerably.

Eric, I love my Toho studio monsters, and you see what happened to me. So let my life be a cautionary tale for all you young pups. And I'm truly impressed you recognised Gigan. He's one of the lesser-known monsters in the Toho stable.

Daisy said...

I'll go sit there and wait. As long as I have a good book to read.

Hmm. Yankees hat. Under the bed?

Vulgar Wizard said...

Wait, what?