Flash Fiction #85

Hourglass

PHOTO PROMPT – © Sandra Crook

DUMBSDAY

That there cockeyed hourglass were put up there coupla years ago by Mr. Lillington….excuse me, Doctor Arnold Lillington, ass-tronomer.  Silly old coot.  Crazy as that Doc Brown in them ‘Back To The Future’ movies.

He put it up on that funny angle on purpose. Says he’s got proof – mathematical proof – that an asteroid is gonna smack into Earth, November, 2018.  When it does, it’s gonna tilt the whole world on its axis by just enough to straighten that thing up long enough to count down our extinction.

Yeah, right! Hope it hits them Mayans first, and busts their calendar.

***

When the first experimental atomic bomb was exploded for the Manhattan Project, the builders watched from, what was thought to be, a safe distance. As the shock-wave approached, Enrico Fermi, the great physicist, tore half a small envelope into tiny pieces, and dropped them like confetti as it arrived.

He then measured where they fell with his foot, and by eye, and wrote a number on the other half of the envelope. When the ‘experts’ later calibrated how large the blast was in kilotons, he set the paper in front of the general in charge.  His ‘guesstimate’ was correct to three decimals.

As late as the day before the Trinity blast, the team of scientists were still arguing about whether exploding the bomb would set the entire atmosphere on fire, destroying all life on the planet. Later, perhaps regretting what he had helped create, J. Robert Oppenheimer is quoted as saying, “I am Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.”

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Flash Fiction #85

  1. liz young says:

    Sounds like he was lucky actually to survive to present his estimate.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I’ve wondered how much radiation the group received from the blast. During the ’50s, Las Vegas organized Bomb Test Vacations. Hundreds of tourists got bused out into the desert to watch the explosions. The survivors still glow in the dark. 😳

      Like

  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    Back during the Cold War it was predicted that a nuclear exchange would result in a “nuclear winter” of ice-age proportions. The latest studies i can find are ambiguous on the matter and usually end with “. . . it all depends on . . . ” There is some consensus that it was over-hyped. Not to say that it wouldn’t be a problem though. Ahem.

    Spotting asteroids and doing something about them, however, seems to me a very worthy goal for space programs, much better than rock-collecting on Mars. Impacts have happened of course, notably Tunguska, not to mention the Chicxulub event that exterminated the dinosaurs. The risk is statistically identifiable.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I remember clearly the ‘nuclear winter’ doomsaying. As I grew older and found just how often the government lies to us, I became much more cynical – about everything that falls out of the mouths of empty-headed politicians. 😯 😦

      Like

  3. Dale says:

    Great read and that little snippet on Enrico Fermi was most interesting…

    Like

  4. gahlearner says:

    Great story and very interesting bit of history. I knew the Opperman story, but not the Fermi one.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I had it mixed up. I wrote that it was Oppenheimer who tore up the paper, till my son corrected me. I’d have hated to screw up somebody’s chance to get on Jeopardy, although today’s paper had an article that says that Canadians will no longer be accepted on the show. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  5. BrainRants says:

    Just listened to Carl Sagan on YouTube lament the ability of our species to either succeed astoundingly or destroy ourselves out of several various motivations… or lack of them.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      We are a strange, conflicted rabble. The proof that there are ‘intelligent beings out there’ is that none of them have contacted us. 🙄

      Like

      • Jim Wheeler says:

        The proof that there are ‘intelligent beings out there’ is that none of them have contacted us.

        I’ve thought about this interesting question too, but I’ve decided it isn’t proof because of the limits of time and space.

        Planet Earth is ideal for life and yet we’ve only had radio technology for a century, a mere five-hundredths of one percent of the time we’ve been a species. Also, omnidirectional radio and television waves are too weak to be detected over interstellar distances. It’s profound, I think, that we have a SETI program for listening but not one for beaming signals to any one of billions of stars.

        Finally, there is every possibility that intelligent beings routinely perish because technology naturally expands ahead of the wisdom to control it. I think it’s possible that civilizations are popping up like popcorn and then dying all the time in our galaxy.

        Like

      • Archon's Den says:

        I don’t know how you’d check, but the son insists that he read that occasionally, the SETI crew reverses polarity and broadcasts a tight beam of what they claim can’t be mistaken for random noise, in a chosen direction. My recent Flash Fiction with two squid-men may soon be reality. 😯 😉

        Like

  6. Margaret says:

    ‘Countdown our extinction’ – I hope not, but then there’s every chance you’re right. About the extinction, I mean. Scary thoughts. Good story.

    Like

  7. We might at least make this world uninhabitable for the next set of visiting interstellar travellers with our nuclear ability? A plot for a story perhaps!

    Like

  8. i b arora says:

    great post and the story about Fermi is astonishing

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      Hidden behind Government security he was a far greater man than many people realize, easily the equal of DaVinci. 🙄

      Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      As cars got faster, drivers (and passengers) took to wearing goggles, until builders started installing windscreens. A Canadian author writes of growing up on the prairies, with a dog, and a family car with a rumble seat. His father got a pair of goggles for the dog, to prevent collisions with bugs. I’m an ex-motorcyclist, I know what a June Bug in the face can do. 😯

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s