Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Weird science

A while back - the tail end of last year - I had the most unusual conversation with a barista in Starbucks. In fact, I've been meaning to post about it for a while now, but it's taken this long for my brain to try to comprehend the content of the discussion.

Basically, I was enjoying my grande misto, as I am wont to do, when one of the baristas wandered over to say hello. "Hello," I replied as way of a response. He then asked me when I was finishing work for Christmas, and I said something along the lines of "just a matter of days."

Conversation then turned to the subject of what I do for a living (it would've been very stupid to ask him what he did for a living bearing in mind he'd just served me a coffee). Now, in these instances, I usually respond by giving the very general answer of "I work in publishing," because the words "I edit some Star Trek magazines" often leads to people nodding sagely then scurrying away, particularly if they are pretty girls. That said, "I work in publishing" often leads to the response "oh yeah - porn is it?" followed by a Sid James-style guffaw.

Anyway, chappy responded with "really? What?" and, quite eager to get rid of him and return to staring aimlessly out the window, I just said "Star Trek magazines."

He looked at me with a bit of a blank expression for what seemed like an uncomfortably long few seconds, then smiled and said "aaaah, Spock..." and tried to do a Vulcan salute. "Yeah - Spock," I replied. Now I know how William Shatner must feel when he's approached on the street.

So from that point the conversation took what I can only describe to be a rather unusual and highly unexpected handbrake turn. Because chappy began to describe to me his thoughts on space travel. Initially it was all kind of normal - he basically said that with our current technology we don't have the ability to travel to other planets. Fair enough, and quite true. Then he noted that space travel is impossible because the Van Allen Belt would vapourise anyone who tried to pass through it. "Hang on," I said, "what about the moon landings?"

He looked conspiratorially around, lent in closer, and mouthed the word "faked."

Then he said possibly the most bizarre thing I've ever heard.

"Do you know the only way we can travel to other planets?" I shook my dumbstruck little head.

"We have to wait for another planet to pass by the Earth - then we jump across!"

Now, I'm not a scientist, and 99% of all the science I know was taught to me by Star Trek, but that's ... well, it's totally insane. So what did I do? I nodded in agreement, possibly because I was still painting the picture with my imagination brush of some dude hopping onto another planet and waving goodbye to his family as he disappeared off into the night. That brave little planet-hopping dude!

Returning to my senses, I knocked back the last of my coffee, and began to back slowly away. And as I did, I kept one hand on my phaser - because, mark my words, one sudden move and I was gonna drop that nutter to the floor and run...

12 comments:

Tara said...

Did you happen to look around you to see if there were any hidden cameras? That's unreal and hilarious.

That is so funny about him thinking that the moon landing was fake, and...I'm having weird images about planet hopping. I imagine people hopping on one like they do on an escalator at the mall.

skillz said...

Any passing planets would kill us all; the gravity would cause supermassive tsunamis.

In fact our physics teacher at school said that Independance Day couldn't happen because a ship that size would cause the earth to come off it's axis slightly, again causing supermassive tsunamis.

We'll all die within 30 years, the question is how. *fingers crossed for magnetic flip*

Tim said...

Tara - To be honest I was just trying to get away from him. I sort of felt like waving my arms around like a nutter and going "AAAAAAAH!" then just running off. That would actually have been more sensible than what he was saying...

Planet-hopping gave me a wierd image too - people sort of unexpectedly having to duck rather than be whacked on the bonce by a passing planet... Insane!

Skillz - Indeed, who the hell cares about the Van Allen Belt when bloody planets are just popping out of the sky and whizzing by.

My Dad says things like that about the real world effects of events in films. More than once I've had to say something along the lines of "yes of course spinning the world backwards wouldn't turn back time, but then Superman's not real either so it's a moot point."

You're liking the term supermassive tsunamis, aren't you? I'm hoping for an alien invasion rather than a magnetic flip. I've put in too much time on games like Gears of War not to get the chance to pump a load of bullets into a big grey alien head in real life.

Dinah said...

That's awesome. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. I had no idea where it was going after "Spock..." but it only got better. Have no idea how you kept a straight face.

Tim said...

I think I kept a straight face by seriously worrying about my safety...! Thing is, he still serves me now - although I tend to listen to my iPod while I'm sitting down (particularly as I'm writing at lunchtimes now) so it's a bit more difficult for him to engage me in conversation!

T-Bird said...

Was he trying to hit on you?

missy&chrissy said...

when you say you work in publishing, people ask if its porn? man, when i say i work in publishing i just get a stare of boredom...

Dora said...

That guy isn't crazy...MUCH.

He's on the edge of reality and insanity and he's not doing a good job of walking that line.

FAKED. I like how he said that quiet, 'cos you know, anybody could have been listening and trying to steal his "theory" and pass it off as their own.

Tim said...

T-Bird - Nope, he was deadly serious!! And there was no touching, so I don't think he was trying to hit on me.

Missy and Chrissy - Yeah, if I say Star Trek they look blank, if I just say "publishing" they assume that mean Reader's Wives or something!

Dora - Exactly! NUTTER!! I'm surprised he told me his theory - I'm just waiting for the next planet to swing by so I can jump aboard - I'll be the Christopher Columbus of my generation!!

Will said...

Madness. Although I'm not surprised - the last time I went into a coffee shop I was asked to name the man on the back of my £10 note. When I did, I won my money back and got a free hot chocolate. There was lots of dancing going on; I think they were on pills.

That was a Pret-A-Manger though.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

W H O O O O O O O S H !

Lawks! Was that Mars? Nearly had my hat off...

Tim said...

Will - Madness indeed, yet he was deadly serious...

Wow, that was a pretty good deal you got in Pret. Funny, a colleague of mine got ripped off in a branch of Pret just before Christmas - they owed him £15 change, and only gave him a fiver back. I think we now know how they're financing their little drug-fuelled money games!

Inexplicable Device - Damn, did I miss it? There goes my new carefree life on the red planet!