Gravity and Grace (2) | Leaving the orbit of a large Mass

Wby1In the last post, about Herzog’s new(ish) film The Wild Blue Yonder, I mentioned that much of the footage was shot on a Space Shuttle mission. From the haircuts it looks early ’90s. May be even earlier. That or NASA have some serious fashion issues hanging over.

Going into space has always been a huge dream of mine. Given the opportunity to do just one thing in life, I’d chose going to the moon. No argument. Shame it’ll never happen.

The experience of weightlessness is beautifully communicated in Wild Blue Yonder. Astronauts go to sleep in sleeping bags on the walls. Except, of course, there are no walls. Wall, floor and ceiling only make sense with gravity. In zero gravity these axes disappear. There is no sensible Cartesian system. No up or down. The ‘special relativity‘ of earth gives way to the ‘general relativity‘ of the entire universe.

This is what happens when you leave the orbit of a large mass. You lose it’s gravity, but escape into some new grace. For a while many of us have circled the heavy institution of the church, considering an escape velocity, but always dragged back toward its centre. And I wonder if it’s going to be soon time to jettison that aging planet, and find new orbits entirely. It may be a long and strange journey, in some weird and wonderful craft. But it’s one I feel we’ll have to make. Leave the sterilized, artificial atmospheres of the ‘special case’, and jump into the general relativity of the Universe in its hugeness.



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4 responses to “Gravity and Grace (2) | Leaving the orbit of a large Mass”

  1. Nice metaphor, Kester. Leaving the “gravity” of inherited systems.
    Herzog is great. We just watched his film “Lessons of Darkness” – amazing. And not to forget “Heart of Glass” – an all-time fav.

  2. What one might do on a LONG trip to another planet is touched on in WBY. And is what NASA are having to investigate. It’s only 520 days to Mars, but what the hell would you do on the way? Read the works of Tolstoy?
    You’re right… Lessons of Darkness is awesome. Hacked it with some Death Star voice overs for a Vaux service once. Still got it if anyone wants the DVD 😉

  3. hey! came across your post from microclesia… i love the term “escape velocity”… have you heard of Andrew Smith’s album of the same name? awesome.

  4. No… Have to check it out! Same Smith who wrote Moondust?
    I do teach a bit of Mechanics though, so if you want to know the equations deriving the launch velocity needed to escape the earth I can tell you!