Friday, October 9, 2009

"Wake Up! They're about to Nuke the Moon!"

Those were the exact words Joyce spoke this morning. I'd like to say I'm so wise that I immediately thought to myself: Now Bob, there's no need to correct Joyce by saying: "No, my love. The rocket that's going to hit the moon this morning doesn't have a nuclear warhead." But the truth is, as I slowly emerged from my deep slumber, the only thought that passed through my head was: Nuke the moon? Kewl!

Now that my morning fog has lifted, it occurs to me that slamming a rocket into a luckless crater near the moon's south pole would have been a major media event back when I was a grade-schooler in the early sixties. I remember well Alan Shepard's sub-orbital flight, which lasted a whopping fifteen minutes (more or less) -- compelling us third-graders to gather around a radio in the school auditorium and listen to engineers and test pilots shouting "Roger that!" at each other over a steady roar of static. Nah, we weren't the least bit bothered by the lack of any cool pictures being beamed back from outer space. After all, George Lucas was probably among this throng of kids gathered around America's school radios, so back in those pre-Star-Wars days our special-effects expectations were pretty low. As we hunkered around our new-fangled "transistors" (seeing only the tension on our teachers' faces), we had to use our imaginations to visualize the wild ride Colonel Shepard was taking. But our imaginations weren't limited to the trajectory of Freedom 7. With each break in the static, we were also picturing all the soon-to-be discovered alien monsters who lived on exotic card-board-walled worlds -- claymation monsters who were very likely lurking behind that huge papier mache boulder right over there. Space was truly magical back in 1961.

But this morning (after Joyce's announcement that the moon is under nuclear attack) I got up, did my bathroom ritual, wandered into the kitchen to refresh my mug (which Joyce had lovingly delivered earlier), then stood behind Joyce at her computer and watched the live-stream moon craters growing larger. The image froze. Then some tech guy at JPL heralded the impact with the words "Thermal signature!" I kissed my wife goodbye, stepped out into a steady downpour, got into my Jap car and turned on the radio, just in time to hear Vic Ratner patiently explaining that the moon is way too massive to be knocked out of its orbit by something the size of an SUV. Still the local radio host kept insisting: "But what if something had gone wrong? Isn't there some danger we could damage the moon?" I thought Vic Ratner was very nice not to answer: "O Lord, what was I thinking? You're right! ... If we keep this up, we could end up with a moon that's just covered with craters!"

But I also thought to myself: Gee, the future sure ain't what it used to be.


Jerry said...

Good points.

It appears that we have all become a bit jaded, and exploits in space are now considered ho hum to the majority of folks. Those were the good old days with Walter Cronkite demonstrating what was going on with cheezy cardboard graphics while we sat glued to our B&W TV sets during the Apollo missions. I was not yet in school when Shepherd and Glenn first flew, but remember vividly the Gemini and Apollo programs that soon followed.

It was quite an experience to visit the Kennedy Space Center last year. I wonder if NASA can ever do anything in the future to match the thrill of those days?

Bob said...

Nah Jerry, actually I wasn't bemoaning the lack of excitement about space travel these days. I was just noticing that I'm not nine years old any more. I have such treasured memories of being that age at that time in history, but I'm sure our grandparents similarly treasured their memories of tipping outhouses. (Or was that just our family?)

Teresa said...

LOL - you should get an IMAO Nuke the Moon tshirt. ;-)

Then pick up a copy of The Dish and take a trip back in time to the first moon launch. It's a wonderful movie and captures it perfectly.

Bag Blog said...

When I heard they were going to bomb the moon, I thought, gee, is that a good idea?!

The Flyer said...

Man, I almost hate to ask this, but since I've been out of the country for almost three years, I'm a bit out of touch: Why are we shooting the moon? Did someone just win the biggest hand of Pitch ever?

Missy said...

Will someone get a Nobel Peace prize for this? LOL

Gladys said...

Bob you and I share the same skewed view or is our view straight and NASA's skewed. Like I said in my Random Thoughts today...Were they Cash for Clunkers that they were trying to get rid of?

And how about That Crazy Obama! Smoking crack again and gettin the peas prize for it.

Bob said...

I'm not sure whether my perspective is skewed, but I definitely like your randomness.

Obama's piss prize ... well, it would be funny if it weren't so tragic. It occurs to me, the Nobel Committee's awarding this prize at the beginning of Obama's presidency and their claiming that it's for his "potential" accomplishments, has positioned them as the moral judge of every foreign policy decision made during the rest of Obama's term of office. Only a fool would compromise the independence of American foreign policy by accepting the prize -- so of course, this dog doesn't hesitate to jump into the lap of the Nobel Committee.

The plan was to kick up water that might be trapped at the moon's south pole so it could be detected by a trailing vehicle. NASA's not saying anything official yet, but as I hear it, the explosion of water-laden debris they hoped for just didn't happen.

Bag Blog--
That remains to be seen, but my initial reaction remains, "Kewl!"

I only wish IMAO would award me a T-shirt. (Surely, you didn't mean I should buy one.) As for The Dish, all I have to say about that is: "Please remain upstanding for the playing of the American national anthem," and "I certainly can't believe Rudy's a part of it."

joyce said...

why didn't you go ahead and tell all about my stupid question? I even prefaced it with "I know this is probably a stupid question" but, hey, doesn't the moon affect tides and stuff? hate to mess with tides.

Teresa said...

LOL - Carrier Pigeon.


The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

This makes me wanna run out and shoot my barn with my 12 gauge...YOU MAKE THE CALL...

a) just to see if i can hit it
b) just to show my neighbors that i can
c)just to see what kinda hole that slug load makes
d)just to sight in my...shotgun.
e)because i can and damned if anyone's gonna stop me.