Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Industrial Light And Magic

Dave and I contrived many great schemes while drunk, and by the cold sober light of day you could see the tumble weed blowing across them easily enough.
The computer game where all you had to do was press the ‘any key’ and the smurf would be crushed by a large falling weight was one. Though years later I did turn that one into a reality.
We never did figure out what level two should be.
Picking on English walkers high up in the mountains was another. Sharing coffee and small talk we would establish their provenance and then feign complete geographical ignorance.
“London eh? Isn’t that somewhere in England……”
We always felt that done with sufficient straight face it was bound to be a winner but they never asked us back.
Ah well.

One sure fire winner though is a little secret that I shall let you in too now. This sleight of hand is bound to impress and, I can say with some confidence, is a sure fire hit with the ladies, or indeed with the gentlemen should that be your persuasion. It involves no more than a few quiet and well timed moments under just such a starry sky as it is our good fortune to enjoy on Hallett’s Mountain this very evening.
Gather close and don’t breathe a word to the others.

Flashing overhead at a giddy pace there is a network of satellites devoted to providing telephone communications and other electronic jiggery pokery. These are called the Iridium network. You probably haven’t heard of them unless you have been involved in some fairly extreme expeditions or sail far out of sight of land. Perhaps if you haul sledges across the Antarctic. Maybe you are a lone round the world yacht person. In that case the Iridium network may well be your lifeline and source of companionship.
For the rest of us…well rest assured they are there a few miles above us.
And they are shiny. They have at least one very flat shiny surface. A flat shiny surface that every now and then catches the sun.

When this happens in your line of sight it is like the sun being reflected from a large window pane on the far side of a valley some miles away. All of a sudden where there was nothing there is suddenly a dazzling bright flash. The sort of flash that would amaze the observer if they just happened to look in the right place at exactly the right time; causing them perhaps to stand in jaw dropped wonder at the heavens above.

Fortunately the flashes, or “Iridium flares” as they are known are, though little known, incredibly predictable. Predictable even down to the very second they occur.
With just a little knowledge and an accurate phone set to buzz a few seconds before the critical point one can surely impress the object of affection.

You can point to the sky and command attention to the exact spot where an otherwise inky prospect will suddenly catch reflected fire.

Hey it works for groups as well but come on……..

Try it yourself here.

Catch you on the other side one day Dave…..


Anonymous said...

Why would that be impressive? Maybe I have become cynical in my mid life but some bloke taking me up a freezing mountainside to show me a flashing sattelite. Yawn. Oh - am I supposed to not know what the flash is - ah. Way too old innit.


Anonymous said...

Alas anonymous I fear you are right. You have become cynical in mid life.