I know I say "I wish I was making this up" a lot, but honestly? There's something kind of awesome about how earnest this guy is. Most Flat-Earthers -- who were recently christened "Flerfs" by some wag on Twitter, an appellation that I think carries exactly the right amount of gravitas -- are so full of themselves and self-righteous that all they elicit from me is an eyeroll. But this guy?
He's got a strange sort of moxie.
His name is Mike Hughes, and he's a 61-year-old retired limo driver from California. He has spent over $20,000 to build his rocket, which includes (the article says) the bright yellow and red Rust-O-Leum paint that he used to letter "RESEARCH FLAT EARTH" on the side. He bought an old motor home, took it apart, and converted it into a firing ramp. The rocket runs on steam power, and the idea is to launch it over the town of Amboy, California today.
Hughes and his rocket ship
What exactly his launch will prove, Hughes doesn't seem exactly clear about. "I don’t believe in science," he said, rather unnecessarily, in my opinion. "I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction."
Which explains how much overlap there is between NASA and Lost in Space.
Danger, Will Robinson.
Hughes has big plans, if the outcome of today's launch is different from what I expect, which is that he will leave a large impact crater surrounded by gaily-painted red and yellow shrapnel, rather like the times Wile E. Coyote strapped an Acme Jet Pack to his back and proceeded to fly directly into a cliff side. If he survives, Hughes says, he's going to launch himself right into a new project, which is the California governor's race.
I wonder what his campaign slogan will be? I think "Vote Flerf! We're down to Earth!" would be a good choice.
What I'm wondering is why he thinks launching himself in a rocket will prove that the Earth is flat. Does he think that a spherical Earth would mean that his ship would take off in a tangent line and end up in space? Or that from up there, he'll be able to see the entire flat disc? You can see how a different perspective could clear things up: