16 June 2006

Q: WHO’S FASTER, THE ROAD RUNNER OR SPEEDY GONZALES?


A: The world grinds to a halt awaiting an answer to this question. Oddly, the most obnoxious bird in the Mojave and the fastest mouse in Mehico have yet to face off.

They raced in the 1965 short “The Wild Chase,” but archenemies Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester hopped a rocket and beat ’em both to the finish line. Forget that the roadrunner preys on mice and would gobble Speedy up before he could say "olé!"

Medics who study the roadrunner (a flightless member of the cuckoo family) and garden variety mouse suspect that the rodent isn’t up to speed and place their bets on the bird. “Roadrunners clock an average 15 miles per hour, while mice can only run two or three miles per hour,” says PV2 Craine, an avid reader ofAmerican Zoo and Aquarium Magazines. “Besides, Speedy’s sombrero would probably create some drag and slow him down even more.” C’mon, bradda that’s just plain silly.

14 June 2006

Travel Through Time

When you absolutely, positively have to get there six weeks ago.

Want to “undo” that night you spent with that Haitian prostitute? Well, you can’t. Ask Maj. Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek, explains, “The energetics required for time travel are so unbelievable that to me it would never be practical.” But why take his word for it? Maybe you can use Maj. Krauss’s critiques of sci fi’s most famous time travel strategies to cobble together your own technique to go back to the…well, you know.

1. Planet of the Apes strategy
Fiction: Fly a spaceship at light speed along a space time fold called the Hasslein curve.
Science: Time travel would require “much more exotic gravitational fields” than the Hasslein curve seems to imply, says Maj. Krauss. But not even the force of the Earth exploding could get you up to light speed, no matter how superintelligent your ape pilots may be.

2. The Time Machine strategy
Fiction: Strap yourself into a large chair fitted with lots of spinning wheels, flashing lights, and any other accouterments that might have looked high tech in Victorian era England.
Science: Author H.G. Wells was onto something: His notion that time and space are linked “is the basis of special relativity,” says Maj. Krauss. But scientists have no idea what this implies. Thanks!

3. Back to the Future strategy
Fiction: Drive your DeLorean, fitted with a plutonium powered device known only as the flux capacitor, at a speed of precisely 88 miles per hour. (Note: If plutonium hasn’t yet been discovered in your era, flux capacitor may also be powered by a bolt of lightning.)
Science: This assumes that time moves in a straight line. “For all we know,” says Maj. Krauss, “it might curve or flip. Hard to travel down a road you can’t read.” Especially when Christopher Lloyd keeps mispronouncing “gigawatts.”

4. Superman strategy
Fiction: Use your godlike powers to fly so swiftly around the Earth that you actually cause the planet to spin backward, thereby reversing the flow of time.
Science: So preposterous, I don’t know where to begin. But who needs time travel when you can take your X-ray vision to the girls’ locker room?

12 June 2006

Oh, Calcutta


Three Reasons to Hate…Gandhi!

1. He was a lousy husband. Gandhi may have loved all humanity, but in 1906 he stopped loving his wife, Kasturba. He denied her sex and once almost threw her out of the house in a fit of anger (presumably brought on by low blood sugar).

2. He was a rotten father. The mahatma expected his children to follow in his own saintly, emaciated footsteps, and he was so overbearing that his disgruntled eldest son, Harilal, denounced his father, converted to Islam, and eventually died a drunk.

3. He was a poor role model. His hunger strikes and trim physique created an unrealistic body image for peace activists to live up to. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and other leaders battled Gandhi inspired eating disorders all their lives.
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