Unfriended

Rationalthinking101.com is my blog and whenever I post to it, like now, it’s setup to share my post both on Twitter and Facebook.

Since I live in Texas, I’m in the Trump Bible Belt. I’ve got friends here and I work for the state, but in a recent survey I discovered most of my Texan friends don’t believe in rational science and definitely support Trump. They believe Earth was created 6,000 years ago (even though many Christians believe otherwise) and that Trump is the best president ever (mind boggling to me – don’t they keep up?).

These views make their way to RationalThinking101.com and as a result trickle to Facebook and Twitter. Once in awhile (not every day, mind you), I get a notification that some person I worked with for years and years has unfriended me.

How can that be? I accepted them as my friend and coworker, can they not do the same?

Of course, I’ve got many Texan friends on Facebook and 99.99% of them remain my friends, the occasional dropout makes me sad.

Here are a few of my views. If you don’t like ’em, get rid of me, but I still like you as a person.

  1. Earth is over 4 billion years old.
  2. Trump is a bad president.
  3. I was born in Boonton, New Jersey. I’m a democrat.
  4. We went to the moon.
  5. The Earth is not flat.
  6. Global warming is real. The main contributor is the State of Texas. Look it up.
  7. I get along with pretty much everybody even if politically I bite my lip. (I was afraid, during the last election, to put posters in my yard. I feared for my family and my home.)
  8. I own guns with real bullets. When I was a kid I owned a BB gun.
  9. I don’t eat meat. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 44 years.
  10. I don’t care if you’re gay, lesbian, bi, straight, black, green, yellow, white or from another planet.

There ya go.

JoeDropsBall5

What keeps satellites in orbit?

Satellites don’t have or need engines to keep them in orbit. Once launched at their elevation and velocity, there’s very little atmosphere to slow them down. They just go.

Imagine firing a bullet parallel to the ground. After the initial launch of the bullet from the explosion in the gun barrel, the bullet needs no engine to keep it going. It will slow down due to air resistance and hit the ground a few hundred or thousand feet away.

Now imagine that there was no air on Earth, like on the moon. When you fire the bullet parallel to the ground there will be no air resistance to slow it down. Nonetheless, it will still fall to the ground because even as the bullet goes forward gravity pulls it down.

But the Earth is also round, not flat. So if your bullet went fast enough the Earth would curve down as the bullet moved forward and the bullet would never hit the ground. It would be in orbit.

Once launched at orbital speed in the near vacuum of space a satellite just keeps going and going. Never slowing down because there’s practically no air resistance up there. But there’s still gravity up there pulling it down.

You are correct that it needs to maintain its orbital velocity. But it does keep initial velocity because of lack of air resistance to slow it down. As gravity tugs it down the curvature of the Earth falls away and the satellite keeps going round and round, in orbit, without any engines.

Even way up there, however, it’s not a complete vacuum. There’s hardly any air. It’s a near vacuum. But over time because there is some air, albeit almost none, it does slow down. That’s why satellites occasionally fall and burn up on their way down.