Bypasses, self-propelled people containers, and small pieces of paper

Halley's Comet appears suspended over a tree on it's May 1910 swing past Earth.“This planet has – or rather, had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

In 1985, I retired from the Navy and moved to Maine, next to Mom, where I’d been raised. That was the year Halley’s comet passed by, a treat I enjoyed on my way home for nearly a week of November evenings.

It hung there, as though, had I hiked up the power line to the top of the hill over which it seemed parked, I could have reached out and touched it. News reports excitedly proclaimed it to have come SO CLOSE – only about 93 million miles. A chunk of ice, rock and dust about 6 miles in diameter, with a tail some hundred million miles long, looking, from where I stopped each night to watch, like a baseball hit for a home run into deep center field, leaving a three-foot trail of dust.

Chinese astronomers first recorded its passage in 240 B.C., Continue reading …

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