rockets, missiles and space travel chapter 2

the unicorn climaxed the second installment

in 1672, mars happened upon giovanni cassini “who found, to his amazement, that the distance from the sun to the earth had to be more than 80 million miles (actually it is 93 million)”.  (more than) 80 million miles?  that’s like more than double any previous estimation of the difference . . . i mean, distance.

or rather,

mars approached close, gently overcoming her shyness.  mathmagician cassini, among others (astronomonics, star-gazers, electro-geologists), observed—“a truly international venture.” but after, “things had suddenly grown too large, too impressive”.  looks like kepler was right all along . . .

with the imaginable distance between glimmers in the nights sky doubled, the stars could no longer be mapped (cognitively).

1833: sir john (herschel) sails to capetown determined to systematically explore the sky; new york sun staff member, richard adams locke, reports:

a new breakthrough in magnification-technologies now allows for up-closes glimpes of the other worlds in our solar system.  descriptions to follow . . .

but the descriptions of life on mars (and the moon and saturn’s rings) was a hoax.  how did locke pull it off (i mean other than capitalizing on the desire for there to be life on other planets)?

just in case some reader might happen to see through this fallacy, several paragraphs were devoted to loose talk about microscopic reflectors, angles of incidence, properties of rays, ect., until the reader felt he could not follow anyway and was, therefore, ready to accept what he was told.

this growth of astronomical knowledge had also resulted in a literal ‘growth’ of the universe.

why would ley employ ‘scare-quotes’ around the second growth?  obviously this is not a literal growth–a physical/material growth of the universe–caused  by the observations and numbers of some creature on some little planet in some know-nothing galaxy. instead it’s a literal “growth”–the growth itself is not there, it’s in our heads.  at some point the “growth” of the universe, the more zeros ended up after the sizes and spaces of astronomical observations, surpassed the representational capacities of human systems.  between that representational space and the space beyond representation we find a limit, a threshold.

and so, “the answer of the year 1830 to the problem of space travel” is . . .

dependence on their surroundings forced them to remain at home, and the most they could hope for was to see other fish tanks and guess about there surroundings.

but dont get down, science; there still may be things to observe in the night sky . . . like a possible “walled-city” on the surface of the moon.  “it would prove a lot of things–provided only that it’s nature established.”  that’s always the tricky part, establishing nature . . .

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