Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thanks to WBZ's Jordan Rich

What a terrific time I had as a guest on the Jordan Rich Show, WBZ Boston, last night! I guess my host agreed, since I was originally scheduled to do 30 minutes and he asked me to stay on to fill the entire hour. Hard to believe how fast it flies.

It goes without saying that Jordan is a pro, but I was impressed again with how smoothly his show runs, how much research Jordan did to prepare (e.g., he read my blog!), and what a good conversationalist he is. You start talking to him and forget you're being broadcast on a 50,000-watt station that covers the eastern U.S. and Canada. I think what I appreciated most was Jordan referring to me a couple of times not just as a writer, cartoonist, etc., but as a "thinker." No one has ever accused me of that before. I liked it.

Unlike my previous appearance, we took a few phone calls this time: one from a woman who'd survived cancer and was still deeply emotional about her experience, another from a man who wanted my opinion on whether future humans might evolve to have wings like birds. I actually loved the latter question; if you just kind of take it on its own terms and roll with it, it's fun to ponder. Best of all, Friend O' The Blog Jim O'Kane called in (which Jim and I later agreed might be the first time we've ever had a voice-to-voice conversation after a few years of being Internet friends) to say some nice things about my work and ask Jordan and me our favorite "Star Trek" episodes (Jordan: "City on the Edge of Forever"; me: "Balance of Terror"). But it wasn't all "Star Trek." We also touched on the Space Race, optimism, pessimism, science fiction and pop culture as mirrors of society's hopes and fears, graphic medicine, and other topics you'd expect to come up if you invited me onto your major-market late-night radio talk show.

Many thanks to Jordan and his listeners--especially his callers, and especially especially Jim, who got me the gig a year ago in the first place. I lost count of how many I owe you. To quote James T. Kirk (albeit under different circumstances): "It was fun."


Jim O'Kane said...

An excellent time was had by all. Great radio!

Sorry I left out the Hohmann orbit question you requested, but feel free to solve for the semi-major axis of a transfer orbit from Earth to Mars, where

R_toEarth = 1.496x10^8 km and R_toMars = 2.278x10^8 km.


Brian Fies said...


Jim O'Kane said...

Right you are! I would have also accepted "Och Ohem, Ochtey, Wheis, Barsoom."

Brian Fies said...

I didn't really think about your question because I assumed the joke was that it was ridiculously complex, but it's almost trivially simple, isn't it? Imagining Earth and Mars on opposite sides of the Sun and assuming their orbits are circular (bad assumption), the major axis of a Hohmann Transfer Orbit is just Re + Rm, and the semi-major axis half that, right? 3.8 x 10^8-ish km?

This is what I woke up in bed this morning thinking about.

Jim O'Kane said...

Yep - it's just a new ellipse, so it's half of 3.774 x 10^8, or 1.887 x 10^8.

(Full disclosure: I grabbed the initial values from an Orbital Mechanics text. I don't have solar distances of Earth and Mars in metric, scientific notation in my head - - Earth will always be "93 million miles" and Mars will always be "142 million miles." Old School, y'know.)

It's funny - I spent 10 minutes in the shower this morning trying to divide in scientific notation and I kept arguing to myself about whether the 10^8 should be 10^4. Once I got in front of a piece of paper though, I said, "well THAT was stupid." My brain doesn't do math well unless it's tethered to a pencil.

Brian Fies said...

...divided by two.