Summer Quandaries #38
September 7--23 days to camp
Balling Around the Solar System
Thinking of 11 and 12-foot hoop heights brought back memories of a long-ago flight of fancy. In your teens if you were a science fiction fan and ran across the several juvenile fiction works of Robert Heinlein, then perhaps you too soared to the delights of The Menace From Earth. If you got past the distinctly female point of view of the narrator whose boyfriend was bedazzled by a thirty-something actress visiting from Earth, then it was almost impossible not to be caught up in the utterly believable flying scenes when the straying boyfriend takes the touring “menace” to the colony’s underground air storage cavern. There one could strap on wings and in the combination of normal atmospheric pressure and one-sixth lunar gravity the magic of Iccarus became reality. If you were a basketball junkie, it was no great leap to picture a smaller cavern to the side with, you guessed it, a pair of hoops, a ball, and a complement of youths gleefully leaping to impossible heights.
Ever since, whenever I read of a possible site for space colonies, I also picture the ubiquitous hoop and ball and the follies of youth well (or is that miss-) spent. So next time you ruminate over an article exploring the hurdles necessary for a human colony on the Moon, Mars, Ganymede, or any of the other difficult but possible off-world destinations, allow your imagination to take you along on a 20-foot dunk, or taking off from half court and shooting down on your way by the hoop. Phooey on the foolish astronauts trying to hit a golf ball on the Moon where the course consisted of a single huge sand trap with no water hazards, wind, or trees and the only rough was rocky craters. Give me a rusty hoop nailed to the side of the lunar lander and let the aliens of the far future hypothesize on that artifact.