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HomeNL-2019-02 Cosmic Paddling

Paddling Perspectives: Your Cosmic Paddling Questions Answered
February 2019
by Kent Walters
Q: If you could paddle at exactly the speed of light, would it be possible to remain in one place in a rapid, based on the theory that time would stand still just before it started to reverse at greater than the speed of light?

A: If you subscribe to the theory that “anything is possible”, then yes.  However, there are a few practical obstacles to proving such a hypothesis.  For starters, just how strong and heat-resistant are you, and what is your kayak made of?

  Click to enlarge
Q: While paddling on the Buffalo River, we observed a snake eating another snake.  Do snakes have any morals?

A: Of course they do.  Look no further than Quetzocoatl, the feathered serpent of the Aztec (or was it the Maya or the Olmec or the Inca or the Quechua or the Ayamara – I can never keep them all straight), where it was a snake that was defining morals.

Q: Back to the speed of light question, if you could do this, would you wear a helmet?

A: There are two ways to go on this:
1. Always err on the side of safety, so yes.
2. This is an inherently unsurvivable event, so no, you don’t have to worry about it.

Photo © Samuel Blanc

Q: Since anthropogenic climate change is an indisputable fact, if humans do not change their behavior in the “right” direction, how soon will we be counting displaced penguins in our annual Christmas Bird Count?

A: Using Michael Mann’s proprietary formulas that launched the most recent set of Climate Change initiatives, it is quite easy to prove that penguins will inhabit the Trinity River Basin within the next 3 months, and will completely overrun it by Christmas of next year, making bird identification relatively easy in our next cycle.

Q: Back to the speed of light question, would the route most likely be 750 times around the earth in a second, or one long 186,000-mile loop through space back to the same position every second?

A: It doesn’t matter.  You’ll be dead.

Q: Where is the trifecta of a short drive, great scenery and exciting, safe rapids?

A: In your dreams

Q: One more question on the speed of light topic: Would physical objects like trees and rocks and canyon walls cause a problem, or does travelling at the speed of light eliminate these factors that could be in the entry/exit path to/from the rapid?

A: Similar to the previous answers, it doesn’t matter because, assuming instant acceleration from 0 to 186,000 miles per second, you’ll die about a second before the first pass.  Let me add, however, that this question is not completely without merit, because if you arranged for an observer with a GoPro to document the event, flying or exploding debris could be an issue for him/her.  So the answer to the question is that the exceptional achievement in one aspect of physics does not suspend the rest of the laws of physics in the same scale and environment, so to be on the safe side, the observer should wear a helmet.

The author, Kent Walters