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Space Science

Flat Earther Plans To Launch Homemade Manned Rocket (apnews.com) 555

walterbyrd shares an Associated Press report: Self-taught rocket scientist "Mad" Mike Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who's spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket out of salvage parts in his garage. His project has cost him $20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum paint to fancy it up and a motor home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp. His first test of the rocket will also be the launch date -- Saturday, when he straps into his homemade contraption and attempts to hurtle over the ghost town of Amboy, California. He will travel about a mile at a speed of roughly 500 mph. "I don't believe in science," said Hughes, whose main sponsor for the rocket is Research Flat Earth. "I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that's not science, that's just a formula. There's no difference between science and science fiction."
UPDATE (11/25/17): His first launch atttempt had to be cancelled after his homemade launcher broke down in his driveway.
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Flat Earther Plans To Launch Homemade Manned Rocket

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  • OMG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:41AM (#55594411)
    OMG will someone stop him from this suicide attempt?
    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:44AM (#55594427) Journal

      To what end? At this point he's jut a waste of space.

    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gtvr ( 1702650 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:45AM (#55594439)
      I wonder if the mechanics of landing are just formulas or "science fiction"
      • Re:OMG (Score:5, Informative)

        by bigwheel ( 2238516 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @10:00AM (#55594601)

        TFA says that he plans to open two parachutes, and presumably float to safety. For those old enough to remember, this is not very different from what Evil Knievel did when jumping the Snake River canyon. EK had to know that there was no way he'd land it on 2 wheels. The difference was that EK made a lot of money with his "failed" stunt.

    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Funny)

      by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:49AM (#55594499)

      Stop him, hell. I just donated to his kickstarter.

    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CeasedCaring ( 1527717 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:52AM (#55594521)
      Why? This is Darwinism at work (not that he believes in that, either!)
      • And the person he lands on? Is that Darwinism at work?

        • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

          And the person he lands on? Is that Darwinism at work?

          If he lands on the guy who decided not to stop him because it's Darwinism at work then yes

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            ...the guy who decided not to stop him...

            I'm guessing that guy is you, me, and pretty well everyone else.

        • I think it was Jack Napier who said it best:

          If you're gonna make an omelette, you have crack a few skulls.

          ...or something like that. I just remember he smashed a porcelain mask when he said it.

        • And the person he lands on? Is that Darwinism at work?

          This reminded me of the advice that when hiring people, you should divide the CVs into two piles and throw one of them away. Because you don't wan't to hire people with bad luck, of course. You want people with bad luck to live?

    • by Revek ( 133289 )

      Why? Let fate sort it out. What I want to know is how this is going to prove anything. If only there were some sort of method or process by where he could express a theory and then test that theory and refine it until he could make a reproducible conclusion.

    • The guy is 61 years old, seems to be holding down a job from which he is able to save for his hobby. He likes to make grandiose statements but if he's applying the "formulas" (rather than the "science") correctly, he should succeed which means that he's not trying to commit suicide publicly.

      I don't think anybody can give odds on his success (especially from the article) but I think, as a society, we've become too risk averse and we need to encourage people like "Mad" Mike to go out there. Maybe there's so

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

      OMG will someone stop him from this suicide attempt?

      See, this is what we call "a hypothesis". It says: Mike Hughes dies as result of his experiment. It's a fine hypothesis. Testable. I suggest to perform the experiment and then test whether the hypothesis matches the observed result.

      • My personal favorite theory is if we take all the people who believe apollo was faked to the moon, would they actually walk outside without a space suit?

        I really want to test that one and one other.

        How fast do bodies breakdown on the lunar surface in the Sun? It is cold but solar radiation will chemically break down the bodies in a given time frame.

        • My personal favorite theory is if we take all the people who believe apollo was faked to the moon, would they actually walk outside without a space suit?

          I don't see the logic in your theory.

          Do you think that people who believe the moon landing was faked think there is oxygen on the moon? There's no correlation here.

    • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )
      Shhh... Nobody tell him. I'll make the popcorn.
    • by Amouth ( 879122 )

      Nahh,, lets just go ahead and nominate him for a Darwin

    • He may believe the Earth is flat, but his flight will help convince the rest of us about Darwin.

    • Right? What if he crashes into the dome-shaped projection screen upon that the government has somehow projected the fake image of the moon for all of recorded and oral history?!?!?
      • by meglon ( 1001833 )
        Well, he's more likely to break some of the hanging lights that are "stars," and if he breaks certain ones, he could get in real Sirius trouble.
    • Why exactly?

      Sorry, I'm done with trying to make the world a better place. All I want to do now is watch it fall apart on YouTube.

    • Re:OMG (Score:5, Funny)

      by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @11:47AM (#55595611) Homepage

      Oh look. Three more words that will never be in my obituary, "home made rocket."

      • You can't know that yet. Someone like this guy might land on you while you are sitting in rush hour traffic on the freeway. Or while you sleep in your bed at night. Who knows! Home made rockets could become popular next week. Or not.

  • by HumanWiki ( 4493803 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:43AM (#55594419)

    I can't.. I was going to quote some stuff and then comment on some other.. but, I can't..

    Even Wile E Coyote wasn't that stupid.

    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:45AM (#55594445) Journal

      Wile E. Coyote is actually a pretty diametral example. A lot of his failures were due to cartoon physics not being real physics. This joker here has it kinda backwards ;).

      • Wile E. Coyote is actually a pretty diametral example. A lot of his failures were due to cartoon physics not being real physics. This joker here has it kinda backwards ;).

        Wile E actually believed in science.. He was just carrying it out poorly..

        This joker doesn't even believe in science.

    • Well at least he is trying to prove his hypothesis, vs just sitting there and being grumpy about it.
      Perhaps after a few failures, he may need to read up on some of physics involved. Then try again, perhaps he could actually put a device in orbit...

      Who am I kidding, it is going to fail, and because his rocket failed, it proved that going to space and in orbit is impossible, because the earth is flat.

      Proof by laziness.
       

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Well at least he is trying to prove his hypothesis

        He claims not to believe in science, so... It's not at all clear what he is doing.

        TFA suggests that he isn't trying to go up to space though, more sideways at very high speed. Apparently he has made one flight already, this is just a longer one.

        • Well at least he is trying to prove his hypothesis

          He claims not to believe in science, so... It's not at all clear what he is doing.

          You don't need a belief in science to be a good engineer - most engineers are pretty damn useless at science. He says he's got the math worked out and I'm inclined to believe him.

          After all, the attack on the twin towers (9/11) was planned and executed by engineers, not scientists.

          • You don't need a belief in science to be a good engineer - most engineers are pretty damn useless at science. He says he's got the math worked out and I'm inclined to believe him.

            WTF.

            The math used by engineers IS science.

            • You don't need a belief in science to be a good engineer - most engineers are pretty damn useless at science. He says he's got the math worked out and I'm inclined to believe him.

              WTF.

              The math used by engineers IS science.

              Nice snippage there, avoiding all the context... Why did you ignore this bit:

              After all, the attack on the twin towers (9/11) was planned and executed by engineers, not scientists.

              ???

              Significant numbers of terrorist attacks are performed by engineers. Almost none are performed by scientists.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            I meant the "prove his hypothesis" bit. If he doesn't believe in science then why would he be using the scientific method of proposing a hypothesis and then trying to prove it?

            You are right though, he does seem to be focused more on engineering. TFA doesn't really convey that very well.

          • You don't need a belief in science to be a good engineer - most engineers are pretty damn useless at science.

            This seems a quite inaccurate statement as far engineering is basically applied science. And similarly to what happens with most of applied branches, its whole point is to apply a theory about which you need a quite good knowledge and which you might even correct/extend via empirical validation. A different story would be talking about bastardised/extreme versions of science/engineering: getting the scientific/engineering label pretty much arbitrarily or theory-with-no-real-applicability (is this science at

          • A good engineer may not be a good scientist, but they need to understand and respect the information that the scientist provide to them.

            Material A will have a melting point of X degrees, is useful information to know, so your rocket will not be made from a material that will melt from its rockets.

            Now I don't expect an engineer to take a bunch of materials and cook them at different temperatures to see what their melting point is, however they will reference material made by the scientists who did the study,

          • I don't understand this reasoning. Science is not something to believe in, it is not a religion. It is like saying you don't need to believe in dough to be a good pastry chef. As an engineer you are building on science. If you are building a rocket that can go 500 MpH, you are definately using science.

            He's not conjuring up a rocket out of thin air is he? He's building something, predicting the what it will do, testing and evaluating the results, improve and repeat. Science.

            Furthermore, he is questioning the

      • He isn't going get nearly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth ... That'd be about 35000 feet, or about 10km. He's planning to travel a mile or so downrange, which assuming most of the flight is ballistic means he'll achieve less than a half km altitude.

        And "ballistic" is a key point. It's not clear whether he's built an actual rocket or a rocket shaped projectile fired out of a steam cannon, but given the enormous weight of a steam pressure vessel I'm guessing it's a projectile. You wouldn't lau

  • Let's hope... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:45AM (#55594447)

    Let's hope his test on Saturday goes well and that he proves Darwin's theory of evolution.

    • The problem is if he survives, then he is going to complain shortly that he doesn't have enough money for his retirement. Because he spend 20k on a junk rocket and probably burned his house down too.

    • It would be a confirmation of his life-view: that there's no difference between science and science fiction.

      Appropriate SF quote:

      Think of it as evolution in action.

      -- Oath of Fealty, Niven/Pournelle

  • Doesn't believe in science. Uses science to kill himself.
    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      While technically possible, I think he's a bit old to be considered for Darwin awards. Especially if he's already procreated. Let's hope he has not.

  • by bjorniac ( 836863 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:55AM (#55594543)

    "Self-taught rocket scientist..."

    This is gonna be good.

  • by Tomahawk ( 1343 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:59AM (#55594583) Homepage

    ...so does some science!

    He believes the Earth is flat, and wants to build a rocket so that he can go up and take a look for himself.

    So he has an hypothesis and is going to build and experiment to either prove or disprove it...

    Maybe his definition of science is a bit different from mine, though...

    • Hey, it's not science. It's "formulas." Apparently those who figured them out just called themselves scientists, those silly people.
    • For much less money, he could launch a weather balloon with a camera on board. The curvature of the earth is obvious at an altitude of 100,000 feet.

      I suspect he is more interested in the media attention heâ(TM)s getting from building his rocket.

      • How would you tell the curvature of the sphere from the edge of the disk?

        I mean, we are talking about people that are utterly convinced there is an edge, yet somehow afraid to go there and stare into the abyss. If through some miracle he survives, he will be sure to tell us we all got it wrong and the earth is indeed flat. And since he has been "in space", he will count as an expert.

        • You would tell because you know that other places (i.e.Asia) exist but you can't see them due to the curvature.
  • The real question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno-coCOW.org minus herbivore> on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @10:03AM (#55594633) Homepage

    Is how we can encourage this behavior. Encourage everyone who doesn't "believe" in science to take themselves out. It could only help the species.

    Of course, we'd lose most of our politicians....so it's really a win/win.

  • Breaking news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @10:03AM (#55594635) Homepage

    Rocket scientist trolls entire world by building a rocket out of garbage while claiming not to be a scientist. Plans to adhere to the scientific method while claiming not to believe in science.

    Godspeed, you mad scientist. Onward for science!

  • Wait, wait, wait... this is a terrible idea...

    (Grabs popcorn)

    Okay, you can proceed now.
  • Calling it now.

  • Not for him though.

  • so $20,000 to go 1800 feet up(probably not), to take a picture, to see for himself whether the Earth is flat. Or, or, and I'm just spitballing here, but he could spend $500 to get to 39,000 feet, on a ticket from LA to Hawaii, otherwise known as 40 times less for 22 times as high.
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @10:22AM (#55594777)
    But this guy is doing more real science and engineering than most of us ever will.
    Oh sure, he mocks the terms - but I interpret that as mocking the orthodoxy. "You can't do that - y'all aint got no degree and learnin!".
  • Man publicly announces suicide attempt due to his refusal to accept reality.

  • He did a quarter mile test jump already, so the vehicle functions. At least marginally.

    A mile-long rocket-boosted jump isn't that much of a difference from what he already achieved. I'm thinking there's a decent chance of success.

    BUT

    He also wants to go to space in the future. That is a huge leap in difficulty and risk. Plus, being a flat earther precludes him from having a full understanding of orbital dynamics. I don't understand how he could plan any kind of trajectory. What physics is he working with?

    So,

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @11:29AM (#55595445) Journal

    "I don't believe in science," said Hughes

    I think Trump may have found his new director of NASA.

  • by cmdr_klarg ( 629569 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @11:33AM (#55595509)

    Is it named the Vulture? His goal is the moon!

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00... [imdb.com]

  • Wat (Score:4, Funny)

    by x_t0ken_407 ( 2716535 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @12:25PM (#55596037) Homepage

    I don't believe in science...I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that's not science, that's just a formula.

    You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

  • by zarmanto ( 884704 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @04:19PM (#55598221) Journal

    Let's not misunderstand what he's doing here; it has nothing whatsoever to do with attempting to prove or disprove anything at all. The whole flat-earth thing is just an excuse to get someone with deep enough pockets to fund his stunt rocket. The reality is, it would be so much cheaper (and safer!) to exceed the altitude he's going to reach by just chartering a flight on most any airline; they routinely achieve altitudes of 35,000 feet, (6.6 miles) and tickets for the flight wouldn't come even remotely near to the cost of his $20K publicity stunt.

    Which, by the way, is all that this is, in the end... because you can't readily see the curvature of the earth until you reach at least 50,000 feet. (Modern airlines don't generally reach that high, since they grounded the Concorde.)

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