As most of you know, it is my post retirement goal to become Ultimate Emperor of the Universe. For those of you joining us late in the program, this goal is not because I fancy myself as some kind of megalomaniac, but rather more as a public service. I figure that if the human race is to survive as a species, somebody is going to have to step up and fish the stupid out of the gene pool and it might as well be me. Plus, I'm retired, so I've got time on my hands for conquest.
With that said, let's talk applied science. Specifically: physics.
Now, when I say "let's talk..." I mean that I'd like to address my neighbors here in the Matanuska Susitna Valley. Specifically those of you who believe that 'science' is like 'religion,' i.e. some kind of arbitrary belief system who's rules only apply to others and not to you. I'm talking specifically to those of you who spent your entire high school and college years covering your ears in science classes and going lalalalala, least you be exposed to something that would make you doubt that Noah and his seasick relatives could have shoveled shit fast enough to keep from being buried gunwale deep in dinosaur manure. I'm talking to those of you who stuck around school just long enough to learn some basic chemistry so you could drop out and start your very own meth lab. I'm talking to those of you who planned on becoming millionaires from your pro-ball scholarships and therefor were just to dammed cool to pay attention when your teachers were trying to tell you how the world actually works. I'm talking to all of you who just can't seem to comprehend, for whatever reason, a very basic concept of high school physics, namely inertia.
The classical definition: An object at rest remains at rest, unless acted on by an outside force. An object in motion remains in motion along a straight line, unless acted on by an outside force. There's a bunch of math that goes with this definition, but let's see if I can explain it in layman's terms so my mouth-breathing neighbors can understand it. If you take a four ton SUV, put a 300.375lb Valley Dweller in it (the .375lb is the weight of the Valley Dweller's 6oz cell phone), accelerate the entire mass to around 80mph on a frictionless surface like, say, the Glenn Highway into Anchorage during a major snow fall complete with freezing rain - well, then that entire mass is going to keep moving in straight line at 80MPH until it runs into something solid enough to stop it, like, oh, a bridge abutment or a tree or a whole shitload of other cars. But, but, but, I hear my neighbors objecting, what about...? So let's just get those questions out of the way right now shall we?
Yes, inertia applies even if you have a shiny, tricked out GMC Enormous Behemoth or Ford Titanic Leviathan with huge manly tires, a bumper-mounted winch, and 40 roof-mounted halogen lights bright enough blind spy satellites. Yes, inertia applies even if you have a car stereo system that causes caribou herds to stampede from over a mile away and no, the thumping base tones that are causing permanent damage to your brain stem will not melt the ice under your tires, sorry. Yes, inertia applies even if you have 4-wheel drive and generation XV anti-lock brakes and 'traction control' no matter what that Subaru TV commercial with the professional driver on the closed course says. Yes, inertia applies even if you have a Jeebus Fish glued to your tailgate giving the finger to people behind you and a 'God is my co-pilot' bumper sticker. Yes, inertia applies even if you're talking on your cell phone, even if the conversation is 'really, really important,' if fact, there might be a little extra inertia in this case. Yes, inertia is a bitch, that's just how it is.
It snowed last night, and we got more today. It's Alaska, it's October, snow isn't exactly a novelty. In fact, it starts snowing here every year around this time. Strangely enough, the snow is always slippery too, not once in my memory has the snow ever been not slippery here on Alaskan highways. Elsewhere in some alternate reality, snow might actually increase traction, I don't know, but not here. Here in Alaska, snow is slippery. You'd think Alaskans would, after years and years and years of slippery snow on highways, wise the hell up. I counted a total of 14 accidents today, on my trip into Anchorage. Major accidents. Upside down, tires spinning in the air, oopsy I'll have to call you back because the rescue crew is here to dig me out with the jaws of life accidents. Tonight it took my wife nearly 3 hours to get home because there were another dozen accidents. And what did all these wrecks have in common? Every dammed one of them involved 4 wheel drive vehicles. At least half the accidents ended with the vehicle upside down in the ditch. Not one of those vehicles was a Yugo, or a Geo Metro, or a shitty beater Ford Escort - and do you know why? Because people who drive Yugos, Metros, and shitty beater Escorts on icy roads are cautious. They are paranoid in the those little tin cans. They slow down. They pay attention. They understand inertia.
So, here's how it's gonna be: After I crown myself Emperor of the Universe, there's going to be some changes made to the driver licensing process. We're going to be adding some science, maybe something like solve for F=ma where F is the force required to stop the mass (m) of a four ton SUV (a)ccelerating like the puck on an air hockey table as it careens towards the ditch. Remember a couple of years ago, people wanted to keep drunks off the roads by adding breatholyzers to car ignitions? I'm thinking of adding something similar, the Physicsolyzer (tm), solve for P=mv, where P is the potential to hold up traffic for hours resulting from mass (m) stupidity times velocity (v) or the SUV ain't starting.
Or maybe it would just be easier to make everybody drive a shitty Ford Escort. Hmmm, I'll have to think about it.
Things, they are gonna change, Part 3
Things, they are gonna change, Part 2
Things, they are gonna change, Part 1