A spoonful of gravity helps the neutron star go down.

Here I am a third time, my newfound friends, and I do sincerely apologize for keeping you in such suspense concerning the fin issue.  My purpose in this was to align with the wisdom of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Kwai Chang Caine, who said, “I seek not to know all the answers, but to understand the questions.” I shall return to the topic of rocket design soon, but allow me to digress for a moment to explore the true gravity of the situation.

That, of course, would be in sharp contrast to the false gravity, I would suppose, but let us not quibble over impressions and expressions of gravity on this earth, or whether neutrinos is a new type of breakfast cereal. The inescapable fact is that that we all experience the force of gravity. Inescapable, to be sure, unless you can exceed a speed of about 25,000 miles per hour. But let’s keep this conversation down to earth, shall we?

Now I ask you: What is gravity? If you are a physicist, you will no doubt remind me of Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which describes the forces two bodies express upon each other as equal to each other and are in direct proportion to the product of their masses times the gravitational constant, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. How boring, n’est-ce pa?

Of course, that wearisome formula quickly falls apart for rapidly-rotating rhinoceroses and perpetually-paddling paddleballs undergoing constantly changing acceleration at velocities approaching the speed of light.

But what, really, is gravity? One of the four fundamental interactions? Yes, but that communicates little more than a tiresome treatise on earth, air, fire, and bottled water. Can anyone, anyone out there tell me what gravity is? Hmm? Don’t everyone speak at once. No one? I thought as much. And if your teachers and your professors with all the letters after their names tell you otherwise, then they are deluded.

Here is what we do when we don’t understand something completely and fully: we define the thing adequately to make it work for us. As another example, do we understand how to measure distances exactly? Precisely not! But it is enough to have a ruler that has no graduations, no marks for the inches or centimeters? Ludicrous! Furthermore, we desire sixteenths of the inch indicated on these sticks of wood, if not millimeters also. Even that is insufficient for precision manufacturing, but it works for most day-to-day situations.  It is never, and can never, be exact, however.

Do we care? The sane among us do not. Give us a ruler or tape measure and we become happy as hippos (I shall not here expound upon the instrument employed to measure the happiness quotient for hippos, or HQH). We could divide our units of measurement in twain forever and a day and still not arrive at the smallest bit of distance it is possible to obtain. We use what works for our purposes. A model rocket body constructed to tolerances of 1/64 of an inch could be one of very fine performance characteristics indeed.  Next time we shall return to the subject of fins.  For now, good night (or is it good morning? I am not always allowed to know).

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