Friday, May 20, 2011

To The Moon, or Jackie Gliese 581d!

   "Bang! Zoom!… to the moon Alice!" That was a funny line in the mid-twentieth century,
when jokes about spousal abuse and domestic violence were considered to be tasteful instead of being the 'faux-pas'  they are today…so audiences laughed each week as Ralph Kramden would threaten his lovely wife Alice with a sub- orbital launch or better, courtesy of the knuckle sandwich which was his quaking clenched fist.

 Jackie Gleason, the famous comedian who played the role of Ralph Kramden, had the right idea though, not about the use of domestic violence, but of his vision for space travel.

Jackie rises again!
Ten years after The Honeymooners first aired on television, the U.S.A and U.S.S.R. were well on their way to escalating a space race that by the end of the 1960's would put the first men on the moon.

 The Apollo missions, powered by their tremendous Saturn rockets, came to an abrupt end before the 1970's had reached their halfway point. Why?

 Well, these missions were enormously expensive for one, and the Moon was deemed by those at NASA to be a destination of little value. The common belief at the time was that the Americans had succeeded in winning a propaganda war against the Soviets by beating them to the moon. The next missions would be to send manned spacecraft to Mars and beyond.

  Meanwhile, Jackie Gleason would begin to develop a greater connection to the cosmos as he had been given a glimpse of, according to his ex-wife Beverly McKittrick, the deceased bodies of three extra-terrestrial beings at a Florida Air Force Base in 1971.

 He was told that the bodies and debris were from the 'Roswell crash' of 1947. Mr.Gleason's interest in U.F.O's and the paranormal had caused him to ask his 'good friend', then President Richard Nixon, about the validity of the Roswell incident. According to writer Bill Knell, Nixon told Gleason: "Well Jackie, if you can arrange to arrive at MacDill Air Force base in Tampa sometime in the next few days, I'll arrange to have you shown some things that may help answer your questions!"
"Don't make me, Alice!"

I mention this mythological encounter only to weave it into the latest announcement from NASA that exo-planet:  Gliese 581d, orbiting a red dwarf star some twenty light years from Earth, is said to be within what is known as 'the Goldilocks Zone'.

This 'Zone' is an orbital area not so close to it's star that water would boil and turn to vapour, nor too distant that water would then solidify and turn into ice.

 This is exciting news, the only problem is, with our current propulsion systems it would take us about 300 000 years to get there.The only human I know of who could make such a trip, and manage to remain preserved, might be Joan Rivers, or possibly Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Formaldehyde himself, Michael Jackson.

  "If there's a will there's a way"; We can't change the laws of physics, but we might possibly develop spaceships which could travel one tenth the speed of light, or as Scotty on Star Trek would have said "and maybe a wee bit more."

 Our current understanding of quantum physics is lagging, but not beyond a possible breakthrough, given recent findings at CERN and the experiments done with it's Large Hadron Super-Collider, straddling the border between France and Switzerland.

 At this facility, they have recently been testing for the existence of a particle known to physicists as the 'Higgs-Boson', or colloquially known as the 'God particle'. It is said that a verification and understanding of this elusive particle would open up limitless possibilities in quantum science... and could these findings be applied to space travel?…Absolutely! 

 So the question then becomes: Why travel to the stars?  Well for one, it's a little more exciting than spending eternity watching 'Dancing WITH The Stars'. (LOL… I guess?)  Given the problems we face due to a combination of resource scarcity, inevitable overpopulation, climate change and tribal warfare, expansion into the cosmos might be a good idea. A good idea for us at least, but perhaps not the cosmos.

 I know many of us would prefer to naval gaze and focus on all the minutiae of human affairs, which is extremely important, but I'm worried that another century of humans trying to reconcile these 'little things' will most certainly bring on that much talked about 'apocalypse' the religious texts warn us about.

 If Jackie Gleason were alive today, he would probably have been inspired by the possibility of reaching out beyond 'the Moon' and into the heavens, raising the proverbial 'bar', or proverbial 'drink' at the bar, hoisting his proverbial 'glass', and declaring: "How sweet it is!" toasting the discovery of a new Earth-like planet not named in his honour.

Dirty CT  May 2011


  1. Wormholes, Wormholes, rah rah rah. It's all about space ace...this way those lucky and sufficiently enlightened few may one day be able to get off this rock and away from the failed evolutionary experiment known as human society.

  2. @Lee Kwong, yes yes, far away from the rest of us, to the outer reaches of our galaxy, only in the end to be hunted down by monsters from the id.