Monday, January 28, 2008

Newton: That Unlucky Bugger

Sir Isaac Newton:

-Legendary genius and father of modern Physics
-Devoted religious philosopher
-Rumored "man's man" (so to speak...)

Whichever, though, he was unlucky to be sure. To draw inspiration for his foundation-rattling discovery of gravitational acceleration from having been bonked by an apple... It's just embarrassing.

(OK, sure, so common historical speculation has rationalized away the apple-noggin incident, for the literary purposes of this post, we shall all agree to assume the apocryphal tale to be true.)

And so he was, lying in the shade of that fruit tree one warm summer afternoon. The soft warm breeze blowing in from the channel, across the rural pasture. The leaves rustle and the branch sways, breaking apart the last brittle fibers of the straining stem.

And at once, the apple does something odd. The Apple, which had been supported above the ground, motionless (but for the breeze), with no visible force acting upon it, begins to accelerate from zero. It transitions from non-motion to motion in a very direct vector toward our young philosopher's head.

Whereas, he may or may not have been daydreaming about the fine tanned hide of his saucy stable boy. Regardless, his attention is immediately drawn to the apple and the sore spot on the top of his head.

Now, he had already been working on a few other ideas, which may also apply. Well, Three ideas to be specific. Three general laws of the universe:

1. A physical body will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity, unless an external net force acts upon it.

2. The net force on a body is equal to its mass multiplied by its acceleration.

3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And so, he surmised, since the apple accelerated, as everything else seemed to, toward the ground, there must be a force at work. That force, of course, being gravity.

And the point?

Well, this all came up rather suddenly today as I read of t an Army spy satellite, about the size of a U-Haul truck, which has run out of juice. Its orbit is decaying and the good folks at the pentagon have no way to steer it.

Soooo.....

It's coming back home. Earth that is. Terra firma. Newton's invisible force is acting upon the slab of space junk, and soon, it will make a nose dive toward the ground. And THAT has lead the Army to issue a notice of concern.

I mean sure, the Earth is a relatively big place. There is plenty of open ground and even more open water. But with 8 billion tail-less tree monkeys in pantsuits wandering around, there is always a possibility.

And just how freakin unlucky would that person have to be?? After all, Newton had only to deal with the aftermath of falling fruit. But someone, somewhere, who is currently alive today may very well be dead in just a few weeks because a veritable spy bus is about to fall from the sky.

Of course, that might lead to a lawsuit.
Hmm.. Maybe we should add "Falling Satellites" to our phone book ad.

6 comments:

  1. Lucky Red8:17 AM

    Yes, Chicken Little, the sky is falling...and it's aiming for your head.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous8:24 AM

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling and the lawyer in you is looking for a way to make money

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don't ever talk about physics again. It reminds me of my spicy Armenian lab parter named Christina. Whatever happened to her...oh crap, what if the satellite falls on her head?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Seelenluft10:16 AM

    Today i negotiated the opening of our Manila office with local counsel.

    I will leave the "Falling Satellite Injury Law" to you.

    This international gig may not be as unique or exciting, but it is decent bread and butter than keeps meat on the table.

    ReplyDelete
  5. mmm... spicy Armenian.

    I'm gettin hungry

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous11:22 PM

    Hey, I can post from my iPod.

    ReplyDelete

Be compelling.

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