The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.
Professor Hector Schlenk, senior researcher at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science
As a scientist, people are always asking me questions – questions like: “How long can marmalade sandwiches and teddy bears survive if left outside in all weathers?”, “Can a leaky fountain pen be sent to the Tower?”, and: “Why are florists so cheerful?”
But, this week, I have not been concerning myself with such earthly matters. I have, instead, been looking heavenward, to the celestial bodies.
Mrs Schlenk has suggested I restrict myself to the shed where I keep my telescope for the foreseeable, merely because I pointed out to the Deliveroo mannie that, given we’re all just a collection of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and magnesium atoms, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
And, as I gaze out at the night sky, two things occur to me. One – urban light pollution is a real problem in a shed on Ashgrove Road, and, two – even half a century after the Apollo moon landings, space travel remains a tricky affair.
For example, Jeff Bezos’s rocket has malfunctioned on its latest trip, a propulsion failure causing the emergency systems to kick into gear, prompting the capsule to be retuned to earth with the aid of parachutes. This is a setback in the space race, which used to be between the world’s greatest superpowers, but is now between two blokes with too much money and not enough childhood friends.
Bezos’s entry is the “New Shepard” rocket, which sounds like a 1970s singing group and looks like… Well, it looks like no one thought about what it would look like before they built it.
ARTEMIS I UPDATE: Engineers are making progress repairing the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was detected during the Artemis I launch attempt Sept. 3, and NASA is preserving options for the next launch opportunity as early as Friday, Sept. 23.
MORE: https://t.co/3G4fjiuzmc pic.twitter.com/FMQedj8rry
— NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (@NASAGroundSys) September 8, 2022
Meanwhile, in what seems a sad metaphor for our times, the Nasa Artemis moon rocket is facing a potentially lengthy delay to its scheduled flight, after two postponed launches.
The fault is with the SLS (Space Launch System), about which a lot of the NLCs (Nasa Launch Controllers) are saying WTF? (Why Thrust Failed?).
Crucially, this relatively small wobble of a few degrees is no cause for alarm, and does not mean that the moon will stop spinning and crash into the earth
But, even if these rockets ever get to the moon, dangers are still fraught. I note with interest the news that there is a wobble in the moon’s orbit. This has had unforeseen effects on an area of Australia, contributing to the deaths of 40 million trees, thanks to tidal anomalies.
However, in interplanetary terms, 40 million trees is a statistically insignificant number, and the moon only goes up and down very slightly, akin to spinning a coin and noticing the wobble as it starts to lose momentum, like the good bit at the very end of Inception.
Crucially, this relatively small wobble of a few degrees is no cause for alarm, and does not mean that the moon will stop spinning and crash into the earth. Indeed it is such a small wobble, it can be thought of like a cheerful inebriate negotiating a late night purchase of chips and cheese.
If our hypothetical inebriate is the moon, and the chips and cheese are any approaching space rocket then, irrespective of any inherent instability, gravity (the bloke who works in the kebab shop) will ensure successful touchdown. I accept, this analogy is unconventional, but I have been in the shed for a very long time, and the aroma from Oldcroft Kebab House is pervasive.
Kenny Cordiner, the sports reporter who’s better on grass
Football has quite rightly took a backbeat recently, but this week marks the end of an earache in more ways than one way.
Whilst we pay our respects to Her Majesty, it is quite fitting that another majestic figure has decided to call time on a glitterball career. I’m talking, of course, about the Swizz tennis wizard, the goat of all time, Roger Federerer.
Over the last 20 years, men’s tennis has enjoyed both the fighting bulldog spirit of Raffle Nadal and the robotic precision of NoVax Choccybix. And, although they has both gone past his tally of 20 Grand Slams, not neither of them can hold a candle to the squashbuckling grace of Roger.
Forgive Old Kenny for getting metaphysical, but watching Federerer was like watching an artist painting a masterpiece. His racket was his brush, the court was his canvass, and the paint itself was his balls.
I think the greatest compliment I can pay to Rog is that he is a supremely talented, handsome man who made a career out of stuffing Andy Murray in big matches – and, yet, I don’t not hate his guts for it.
He follows Serena Williams into retirement, after she also hung up her sweatbands this month. I don’t fancy anyone’s chances in the ping pong tournament at that nursing home.
- See The Flying Pigs live in The Rothienorman Picture Show at HMT Aberdeen from September 21 to 24