Episode 2: Moon men throwing baseballs at the sun

In our sophomore outing (on right after Kent’s Catcast), it’s just your two cohosts, drinking beer and tackling a bunch of life’s tough questions, like: do kids know what a CRT is? What will 30th century anthropologists make of podcasts about Hellraiser? How do you do a mixtape right? What’s the deal with indie video games? And, hey, could a person standing on the moon throw a baseball into the sun?

And a lot more. Remember Myst? We do. We talk about that a bit.

Bumper music this time is a few old shortish weird things Josh has recorded: Have Yourself A Walken Little Christmas, Town in a Lake (a song written by Jessamny West about the time Randolph, VT was misplaced by Google Maps), and the Aural Times non-classic Ernesto! Ernesto! Ernesto!.

The theme song from Kent’s Catcast is, of course, an excerpt of Bach’s Bourrée in E minor that he’s taught his cats to sing.

If you want to check them out, the video games we mentioned included Gone Home, Dear Esther, and Braid, and the podcast episodes on Cabin in the Woods are Jesse’s In the Cut: This Majestic, You Know, Merman and Josh’s We Have Such Films to Show You: Cabin in the Woods.


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8 thoughts on “Episode 2: Moon men throwing baseballs at the sun

  1. In case you haven’t been inundated with responses to the question already, a person would have to throw a baseball at 2.4 km/s in order to escape the gravity well of the moon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_velocity#List_of_escape_velocities ).

    • jesse

      Pfffff that’s no problem for THIS dude

    • Science! Thank you for making the least effort we didn’t bother to.

      And that’s roughly 5400 miles per hour, then.

      Ergo: if you glued 54 Nolan Ryans together, they could throw a baseball at the sun from the moon. YOUR MOVE, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

      • jesse

        I’m often compared to 54 Nolan Ryans glued together

        • If memory serves, in a recent interview Nolan called this out as his least favourite glue-based simile.

          Also, to answer the second part of your original query, given that the escape velocity necessary to break free of the sun (from the earth) is an order of magnitude larger than it would take to get off the moon, it would be virtually guaranteed to hit the sun, although it might hang out in a degrading orbit for a few million years.

  2. russm

    Just listened to this episode, so late to the party, but…

    (also, I studied Aero Engineering & astrodynamics at Uni but don’t work in the field, so I’m not *exactly* a rocket scientist, but sorta close)

    To hit the Sun from the Moon, you need to first escape the Moon’s gravity, but that just puts you in orbit around the Earth, sorta near the Moon. You then also need to escape the Earth’s gravity, but that just puts you in orbit around the Sun, sorta near the Earth. To hit the Sun you first need to escape the Moon, then the Earth, then finally you also need to fully counteract the Earth’s own 29.78km/s orbital speed. You can get 1.022km/s of help by throwing at the right point in the Moon’s orbit around the Earth (plus a negligible 4.627m/s by using the Moon’s own rotation).

    That list of escape velocities linked up above shows escape velocity from the Moon with respect to the Earth is 1.4km/s (it’s lower than the pure “Moon” escape velocity because of that 1.022km/s bonus). So, roughly speaking, you’d need to launch the baseball at ~31.2km/s from the surface of the Moon in order to hit the Sun. (relevant google term: “Delta-V Budget”)

    As far as direction goes you don’t want to throw towards the Sun, instead you want to be standing on the Moon’s equator, facing East, then throw directly ahead (tangent to the Moon’s surface) a few days before the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun, and when the Sun is ~30° above the horizon ahead of you. The reasoning behind that part is hard to explain without diagrams, but there’s a math-heavy explanation at http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/16511-Tutorial-Interplanetary-How-To-Guide in “Section 3: Transfer Burn Point”.

    Lesson 1: Orbital dynamics is quite unintuitive until you get the hang of it. Lesson 2: Kerbal Space Program is fun for frustrated rocket scientists.

    • Yeah, my wife was just mentioning the other day that it seems like the main lesson from all this is that we need to make sure Jesse plays some Kerbal Space Program.

    • scumbly

      I was actually just thinking more recently about how I could have gotten such an underappreciation of the forces involved here. So get ready for me to embarrass myself further.
      I think in elementary school a teacher told me that astronauts on the moon had to be careful not to jump too high, lest they literally float off into space. And this was just one of those things that just gets tucked away and you don’t realize A) how dumb it is, or B) how much it has misinformed your thinking going perpetually forward, until you trip across it like this and it gets dragged out into the light.
      Great piece on this phenomenon on This American Life once: I love the unicorn story especially http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/293/transcript

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