Slingshot introspection

Today I woke up thinking of astrophysics, which is really odd because I almost flunked High School due to some little black square perennially moving from point A to point B kind of like when you remember about the ATM card you forgot over the dresser as you entered the elevator on your way to work on a given Monday morning. I goddamn hated that little black square. But I digress.

There’s this…

There’s this game kids love to play which is passing your hand through the flickering flame of a candle: quickly at first so you won’t get burned and slower and slower as your confidence builds up. This is pretty much a no-win scenario, see?, because the fastest are the losers and the bravest (the slowest, anyway) will end up burned anyhow.
The key to winning this game is a tad tricky; you only get to win if you realize it’s not about competing with the neighbor, but thrillseeking inside yourself: You get so close to getting burned… you get so close to crossing a line from which you won’t come back. Kind of like a conceptual HALO-parachute jumping. Or a slingshot effect.

Today I woke up thinking of astrophysics, I told you; I woke up thinking of the way rocket scientists use the gravity of some planets to get their probes to pick up speed toward a whole different target, shorten distances and save fuel. This is called a Gravity Assist, see, or a slingshot effect if you’ve watched enough Star Trek re-runs on TV.
The thing with the slingshot is shooting your rocketship or whatever toward the gravity field of say, a planet or a moon just so as it uses that very gravitation to build up enough momentum to increase its own speed and optimize its trajectory; then it breaks free from said body’s thrall and is shot towards its destination target, way faster than before. The trick is that your host-body both rotates around itself and around the sun which accounts for multiple vectors over the whole object re-routing thing. I mean if you’re up to your calculus, otherwise either you crash & burn or get stuck into somebody else’s G field. I mean, at least I think it works that way- The whole technique is supposed to be of Soviet origin so it’s some freaking wonder we’ve aimed for Saturn and not hit Washington instead…

It does work though: NASA actually pulls stunts like that every once in a while with their probes… So we’ll stick to the metaphor:

The worst thing about it all, in general terms, is that it pretty much shoots down any defense I might bring up about not having a good grip on reality while doing whatever it is I’ve been doing (or attempting to do) before the whole world came crashing down on me. Ergo, there goes the insanity plea…
“Oh God,” you’ll say- and trust me because this one will probably send a shiver up your spine when you realize what I’m talking about, which will probably happen many hours afterwards- “You then claim you know exactly what you’ve been doing?”


Proud Icarus fell upon soaring close to the sun on wings of wax yet I’m steering clear of that part of the cliché myself: I’m Icarus but with a rocket-pack (ouch) and a ray-gun (double ouch) going at the sun with a little Gravity Assist around the moon. Masoch*sm, after all, does not necessarily lead to suic*de (quite the opposite!).

Yet you know of curiosity & the cat…

(Cliff’s Notes for today quotes from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing from about 20 or 25 years ago: Etrigan the demon telling the Phantom Stranger something like, “Kettle thou art black, said the pot”. But I’m not entirely black, mind you, I’m just a little-little-little gray walker myself with too much time to spare in his little-little-little gray hands…)