by Donald K. Sanders
The other day I watched a documentary film about the activities of the human race. When these activities are viewed from above, at a higher rate of speed, we humans look like tiny-weenie ants. We go real fast, stop, and then go real fast again.
If observed closely, we humans travel in flat circles that I call ovals. We do this over and over, day after day, all of our lives. This round and round behavior seems to make us happy, but no one really knows why.
So, for almost three days now, I have been deep in thought, trying to figure out why we go in ovals every day. I thought and I thought but I could not come up with the answer until I ran into my friend Terry, who works for our city’s maintenance department.
Terry and I were discussing celestial mechanics, and something he said gave me exactly the answer I needed to explain why we go in ovals every day, all of our lives. Terry was explaining that the sun’s corona is actually hotter than the surface of the sun. I was thinking, “How the heck does he know that?”
He went on to say that at any given moment the sun’s corona weighs over seven billion tons. Then he tells me that this seven billion tons of corona flies off in every direction in the form of solar winds. I thought, “Yeah, right!” I started thinking that Terry’s getting senile.
Then he says, “Haven’t you noticed that your magnetic field is distorted?” I looked around and said, “There’s nothing wrong with my magnetic field!” Terry said, “Aw contraire, bon a me!” This is what he told me.
When the solar wind hits your magnetic field, it flattens out the near side and elongates the far side. I looked around again. I was even more confused now than I was before. Then, like a miracle, I had a brain fart!
He could tell by the look on my face that I finally understood the point he was trying to get across. I said, “You mean to tell me that this solar wind thingy is why East Street is called East Street even though it doesn’t go anywhere near East?”
“Pow, you hit the nail on the head!” he said. He went on to explain that East Street and Interstate 80 follow the same rules of celestial mechanics. They call Interstate 80, “80 East” or “80 West” when in reality, it travels north and south, not east and west.
I thought, “That’s why they put the City of Davis over there instead of where it’s supposed to be.” Then I knew that Terry is some kind of genius. That’s why he works for the government.
I said, “Wow, that explains why humans travel in ovals all the time, doesn’t it?”
“Yes sir, indeed it does, my boy!” he exclaimed. He answered everything that I ever wanted to know about human ovals in his next sentence.
“You see, Don, when the solar wind hits your magnetic field and elongates the side away from the sun, it makes you lean toward that direction when you travel. You can’t go in a straight line, so you go in an oval until you get back where you started. While you’re on your oval, you make all the stops you need to make along the way.”
Then it hit me square between the eyes and I looked at him in awe. I think Terry invented the whole oval system thingy. He does work for the government and he’s always driving around in a government truck changing this thing and that, along the way.
“Yes, he’s the guy!” I thought.
The last thing he said before driving off left me in a total state of awe.
“Well, I’m off,” he said.
Before he left, I took a quick look at the seat of his truck. Lying there, upon his seat was a normal-incidence spectrometer (NIS) and a grazing incidence spectrometer (GIS).
I knew what he was going to do. He was going to reflect the (NIS) beam off two toroidal gratings (2400 and 4000 lines/mm) and focus them to an intensified charge-coupled device (ICCD) detector, while the GIS beam is directed to a spherical grating (1000 lines/mm) set at grazing incidence and deflected to four other thingys.
I stood there and watched him drive off and I thought, “Gosh, that guy works really, really hard while he travels on his oval.” We are very lucky to have a government guy like him. Now that I think of it, his dad was a government guy too. I think he worked in Human Oval Management (HOM).