Human beings have been doing brilliant and foolish things for millennia. As surely as we exist, someone will be doing something that causes us to take pause, scratch our heads, and question the cosmic truth that, somehow, we’re at the top of the evolutionary ladder. The leading species in cognitive ability, self-actualization, and universal consciousness. Heavy lies the crown, as they say. So heavy lieth the crown that, perhaps, the sheer weight has befuddled our wits and caused some to combat scientific facts laid down by human brilliance both past and present.
Enter the flat-earther. Proven false by Copernicus, Galileo, and the likes of astronomers persecuted and killed because of their scientific acumen, they led humanity out of our long-standing celestial ignorance by proving that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun. But, you learned that in fifth grade.
Meet “Mad” Mike Hughes. Mike believes that the earth is flat and it’s been his mission to prove it to the world. How, you ask? By building his own rocket and launching himself into the atmosphere to see it for himself, triumphantly land, and tell the citizens of our flat earth “I told you so!” About 1.6 million people around the world die in car accidents every year, but the statistics on home-made rocket fatalities is decidedly inconclusive. Concerned scientists and fascinated onlookers assumed that Mad Mike would soon be part of an unfortunately newfound statistic. This didn’t deter him one bit.
You’ve probably gathered that Mad Mike isn’t a scientist, nor an engineer. Just a 61-year-old cosmically curious limousine driver (soon to be rocket pilot). “Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is. Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.” Scientific inquiry breeds discovery, so he went for it. Over 50% of U.S. made products require welding. Mad Mike’s rocket was no exception, having dismantled and repurposed a mobile home, he fashioned a crude metal conglomeration that looks like a rocket. We have to applaud his panache and creative engineering.
He was also angry that people doubted him, so this past Saturday he ripped into the sky at 350 MPH, traveling almost 2,000 feet above the desert before having to pull two parachutes which alighted him not-so-gently to the earth in what NPR, dripping with sarcasm, calls “the exact same gravitational forces that give planets — including Earth — their spherical shape.”
Thankfully, Mad Mike didn’t die. He was a little banged up, but he’s got plans for another launch, the goal of which is to reach 68 miles into the atmosphere, hopefully proving his point. Nevermind surviving those conditions because he claims not to believe in science, but proceeds to use words like aerodynamics, fluid dynamics, and how things move through the air (otherwise known as physics).
All in all, Mike is going to be alright, but he’s definitely taking a break before doing it again: “Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
Enjoy it, Mike. Don’t let the doubters dull your shine and keep reaching for the stars.