When I worked with NASA back in the late 1980s, I had to do a large, complicated study on what kind of unit they should design to retrieve satellites in space.
The NASA guys believed anything with fewer than three arms would be worthless. It turns out satellites do interesting things. Not just rolling, but doing a sort of shimmy — like a spitball in space. Despite more than 700-pages of diagrams and explanations, the financial wizards in the government decided on building a unit with only two arms.
Which, as their own scientists had noted, wouldn’t work. They tried it in space. It didn’t work.
They were still putting all the space travel stuff on television, so when the “satellite catching” event came up, I had to watch it. “Hey,” I told Garry, “I was the lead writer on the study for this thing.” I really was, too.
The multi-million dollar satellite catcher did not work at all. It was completely useless and could not catch anything. Eventually, the astronaut dumped the “catcher” and grabbed the satellite with his hands.
It turned out, they didn’t need any kind of special catching machinery because even very big things are weightless in outer space.
So much for a lot of scientists, artists, writers, and editors working on this monumental study. I worked 7-days a week for five weeks. Which earned me some really serious overtime money, even though the study was a bust.
The most interesting thing was I got to talking with my NASA scientist who was in charge of the project.
It was 1988. They already knew about things like anti-matter — something I thought was just science fiction.
My scientist guy said “Oh, no. We know it’s there. We just have to figure out how to get some.”
I said, “What would you do with it?”
He laughed. “Oh, I don’t know. Destroy the world? Maybe the universe?”
He wasn’t kidding. Even a tiny bit of anti-matter could go a long way towards blowing up the universe. Let’s not wait for climate change to do us in. Let’s grab some anti-matter and blow up the world. Whoopee!
Soon thereafter, I quit that job.
It had begun to make my brain do weird barrel rolls in my head. I had nightmares and helping them find stuff that could not only blow up the earth but all the planets and maybe the sun. Maybe the whole universe.
That’s a lot of blowing up. Every now and then, I still have those nightmares. Sooner or later, those scientists will find a way to get their hands on anti-matter.
A slip of the finger later …
I refer you to this article on Anti-Matter. If you think I’m kidding, really, I’m not.
And finally, a little quote to whet your appetite:
“… when matter and antimatter come into contact, they annihilate – disappearing in a flash of energy. The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. So why is there far more matter than antimatter in the universe?”
Maybe there isn’t more matter than anti-matter. Maybe we just haven’t found the big anti-matter grab bag yet. And if there is an equal amount of anti-matter in the universe, are there also anti-people? Anti-trees? Anti-birds?
Maybe given our human record for destroying everything we get our hands on, we should just skip the whole anti-matter thing and do something positive?
Just a thought.