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Oh, My Gosh: God Speed, John Glenn

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American in orbit.  That was fifty years ago, and I remember it!  I was seven.  Argh!

I remember we learned a new trick with our yo-yos we called "The John Glenn."  It involved "walking" the yo-yo, then swinging it around three times before snapping it back into our hands.

We're supposed to have colonies on the moon now (which, because Newt Gingrich has trumpeted it, has somehow turned into a bit of a joke for some people); we're supposed to be on Mars.  We should be in the asteroid belt.  There should be orbiting space industry.

My ambitions were huge.  I thought we would have contacted aliens by 2012.  I'd be living in a Heinleinesque future with super science, industry, and American go-to-it pluck ruling the solar system and beyond.

That's the future I was looking forward to, and the one my aeronautical engineer dad worked so hard for.  We haven't reached it yet.

On the other hand, by the time I was in high school I didn't think the human race would see 2012.  Nuclear war seemed inevitable.  After all, when weapons are made, they're always used.  Or overpopulation would have torn the world apart, according to Paul Erlich and The Population Bomb.  I also worried about biological and chemical warfare--I was a bit paranoid in high school.

Still, John Glenn was fifty years ago.  That's phenomenal. 

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The Hubble Rocks!

According to new information from the Hubble telescope, Pluto, which is three billion miles away, has a 4th moon circling it.  The moon is somewhere between 8 to 21 miles wide.  Astronomers haven't named it yet, so it's labeled just P4 at this time.

To be able to see something three billion miles away that is no more than 21 miles wide (and lit by a sun that at that distance is only a bright star) truly boggles the imagination.

I can't even make an appropriate analogy.

The fact that Pluto has moons at all is baffling at first.  Pluto's size gives it much less gravity to hold moons (I'm 185 pounds on Earth, but I'd be only 12.3 pounds on Pluto).

Of course, in frictionless space, where micro influences operate unimpaired, everything, more or less, is curving, circling or crashing, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

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