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Lunar Flog

Can you do better than an astronaut? _
  [vote for,

On 6 February 1971 Alan Shepherd dropped a couple golf balls onto the regolith at Fra Mauro, attached the head of a 6- iron to a geologist's sampling tool, and took three one- handed swings to loft the balls into the distance. Though historic and funny, it wasn't quite golf. More a reminder that "golf" spelled backwards is "flog."

To commemorate, I propose a new sport: "Simulated Lunar Flogging."

Due to the (hopefully temporary) lack of facilities on the Moon, SLF is played on Earth in a large domed stadium, completely sealed and with the air pumped out. The course is covered with fine grit to simulate regolith, and competitors all wear pressure suits.

The suits aren't replicas of the 1970's era EVA suits, but similarly bulky to restrict players' movement and keep them from gripping the club with both hands. Helmets/visors also hamper their vision. In keeping with earthbound golf traditions, the suits may have silly colors and patterns of the player's (or their sponsor's) preference printed on them.

Each player gets two balls and a 6-iron. They then try to improve on Shepherd's performance, scored by these metrics:

1- How many strokes did it take to hit both balls? (skill)
2- How far did each ball go? (strengh)
3- How close did they land to each other? (precision)

Players may play as many rounds as they can want, until their air supply runs out, or until they stumble or otherwise puncture their suit by accident. Survivors are then advanced for consideration & entry into a follow-up tournament to actually be played on the Moon, once facilities exist.

kdf, Sep 09 2020

The Original ... https://www.youtube...watch?v=t_jYOubJmfM
[kdf, Sep 09 2020]

Artillery Golf Artillery_20Golf
"Incoming !" [8th of 7, Sep 09 2020]

"Arena" https://en.wikipedi...he_Original_Series)
Gorn, but not forgotten ? [8th of 7, Sep 09 2020]

Black powder https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpowder
" ... the saltpeter is an oxidizer." [8th of 7, Sep 09 2020]

Deflagration https://en.wikipedi...g/wiki/Deflagration
"Subsonic combustion propagating through heat transfer" [8th of 7, Sep 09 2020]

Golf balls at 500mph? https://www.youtube...watch?v=JT0wx27J9xs
[kdf, Sep 10 2020]

Golf and orbital mechanics https://what-if.xkcd.com/85/
Mentions record setting 237moh ... [kdf, Sep 10 2020]

Next up - supersonic baseball! https://www.youtube...watch?v=cqidD7kVnxY
Nothing to do with golf, but hey - supersonic baseball cannon! [kdf, Sep 10 2020]

MOL https://en.wikipedi...Orbiting_Laboratory
Another piece of space nostalgia - this one never flew [kdf, Sep 11 2020]

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       Hmmm. How do you simulate the lower gravity ?   

       [+] anyway in the hope that the occasional suit depressurization will kill a few of the idiots who would subscribe to this.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       "How do you simulate the lower gravity?"
-8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       I considered a few options but ultimately decided the simulation would have to be less than perfect. Could probably do counterweights on frames for the player's suits to make them feel a bit bouncy, but there's nothing to correctly simulate the trajectory of the golf ball.
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       The ball isn't the problem ; just make it 1/6 of the mass. In vacuo, the trajectories will match very closely, though Coriolis forces will be different on your planet.   

       If you create an evacuated chamber proportionately closer to your planetary core, the simulation can be exact.   

       As you note, it's the reduced gravity for the player that's the technical difficulty at the surface.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       "The ball isn't the problem; just make it 1/6 of the mass."
-8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       It's not that simple. Changing the ball's mass means changing the composition, so the rebound properties off the club head would change.   

       "...an evacuated chamber proportionately closer to your planetary core"
-8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       I like this idea for reducing effective gravity. Alternately, we could build a tower about 9500km high and play up there - which would also be close enough to vacuum if the platform/arena was open to space. Either makes the project much more expensive and half-baked. Maybe so much so as to make people see it would be more practical to actually go back to the moon instead.   

       BTW, you might want to cut back on the "your planet..." references. If you keep insisting on otherness, someone will eventually to want to see your visa, alien resident permit, or whatever it is the Men in Black issue these days for off-worlders. Might deport you.
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       I wonder if having a slightly raised, pressurized porous floor would offset the gravity somewhat. Probably not so much for the player as for the ball.
whatrock, Sep 09 2020

       No; because to do it properly, the ball is driven from a tee.   

       // the rebound properties off the club head would change //   

       ... but then the properties of the club head could be similarly modified, shirley ?   

       // it would be more practical to actually go back to the moon instead. //   

       It's perfectly practical; just expensive. And when you get there, there's absolutely nothing to do except pick up some rocks as souvenirs and then come back.   

       In fact, it's nearly like Utah, but better because no-one's trying to Bring You To Jesus ...   

       // want to see your visa ... or whatever it is the Men in Black issue //   

       Ah, you misunderstand. The MiB deal primarily with refugees, either alone or in small groups. They sub-contract a lot of work to us, because we're more like Blackwater, sorry Academi* - a standalone agency that they can do business with, particularly the less savory and more violet enforcement side of the business.   

       Obviously that's not cheap, but we've managed to negotiate a service level agreement and a fee structure that is acceptable to both parties ... hence our liking for cash, we have to pay them quite a lot for the exclusive rights to administer random, violent, extra-judicial beatings ...   

       *But with slightly higher moral and ethical standards, which is disturbingly easy to achieve, even for us.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       "...do it properly, the ball is driven from a tee."

       Maybe in golf, but not in flog. Shepherd played right off the regolith. No tee, and at least as bad as any sand trap.   

       "the properties of the club head could be similarly modified"

       Ok, I'll give you that one. Opens a whole new industry in developing sporting gear to simulate off-planet conditions.   

       "(going to the Moon) perfectly practical; just expensive (and) there's absolutely nothing to do..."

       That's what Lunar Flogging is about, to prop up the tourist industry. But in all seriousness, I think the Moon would be a good place for some kinds of research and I'd like to see Elon Musk* or some other private party get there before a government sponsored project.   

       "...violet enforcement..."

       Is that a special wavelength from the flashy thing?
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       No, it's like Black Ops; using UV "black" light so the victims can't see who's applying the baseball bat to their wedding vegetables. But of course, our vision operates over a much wider electromagnetic range than your primitive Mk. 1 eyeballs; we can see things that humans can't, particularly when they've been hit repeatedly in the face with a rubber hose so that their eyes have closed up ...
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       "...we can see things that humans can't..."
-8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       Yes, the day nurse mentioned you often see things nobody else does. That usually means it's time for your nap. Have you had your special sleepy-time "warm milk" yet?
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       Is it that time already ? Are their any biscuits, the nice ones with the bits of chocolate in them ? What do you mean, damp slippers again ? Oh .... oh dear.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       If "flog" is backwards "golf", shouldn't "flog" be a cannon (or similar launching apparatus) that fires golf balls at a player, whose aim is to catch them with a golf club (preferably on a tee, but that's for very advanced players)?
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 09 2020

       // a cannon (or similar launching apparatus) that fires golf balls at a player //   

       Prior Art ... <link>
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       I should've guessed you had already gone in that general direction...
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 09 2020

       Artillery golf might have its place, but you won't be able to use the black powder version in vacuum. You'll need a propellant with its own oxidizer. And it's a bit far from simulating or even spoofing Shepherd's original swing.
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       // you won't be able to use the black powder version in vacuum. You'll need a propellant with its own oxidizer. //   

       Shame on you, [kdf], shame on you.   

       Black powder is composed (traditionally) of sulphur, charcoal, and ... potassium nitrate, an oxidising agent.   

       Anyone who's ever engaged in a life-and-death struggle with a Gorn should know that ...   

       Black powder will combust perfectly well - as far as it goes, it's pretty inefficient - in the absence of any external oxygen supply.   

       <Gratuitous and unnecessary pedantry>   

       And it isn't a true propellant, it's a deflagrant.   


       </Gratuitous and unnecessary pedantry>   

       <Notes that [kdf]'s obviously limited familiarity with Naughty Things That Go Bang may possibly be used with advantage, and files factoid away for future employment/>
8th of 7, Sep 09 2020

       "Thank you, I'm always happy to be corrected."
-Mr. Jonathan Teatime

       Indeed, chemical explosives are not my bailiwick. There are so many more... ah ... personal ... ways to fulfill a contract up close, and for remote jobs I prefer directed energy devices.
kdf, Sep 09 2020

       Getting back to the moon, as you just know they're gonna go back and, once there, ought to have something more interesting to do than drive little carts and collect rocks, if a future astronaut in a more flexible spacesuit were to smack a golf ball from a taller tee might it actually achieve low lunar orbit? Vacuum = no swing resistance, so higher swing speed, greater launch speed, lower gravity = greater altitude.
whatrock, Sep 10 2020

       “.. If a future astronaut in a more flexible spacesuit were to smack a golf ball from a taller tee might it actually achieve low lunar orbit?”

       That’s a good question! It’s the kind of thing Destin Sandlin (smartervereyday) or Randall Munroe (xkcd/what-if) might address. My hunch is no, but I haven’t run the numbers.   

       (edit to add a moment later): Well, that was easy. My hunch was right and the answer is still no. Smarter Every Day *did* do a segment on hitting golf balls at ridiculous speeds (link). They break (so do the clubs) if you hit them too hard - well below what you need for lunar orbit.   

       (and even later) XKCD-WhatIf did a relevant piece also - golf and orbital mechanics (link). A somewhat different topic but mentions the fastest anyone ever hit a golfball was 237 mph.   

       By contrast, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter orbits the moon at a little under 3600 mph.
kdf, Sep 10 2020

       So, for orbit golf, what you need is an asteroid.   

       Glad that's settled - and anyway, Saint-Exupéry's Petit Prince could do with the company.
pertinax, Sep 10 2020

       See the problem with this is that a whip breaking the speed of sound on the moon would make no satisfying CRACK noise.   


       // a whip ... would make no satisfying CRACK noise. //   

       "In space, no-one can hear you scream ..."   

       Disappointment for sadists and masochists alike (allegedly).
8th of 7, Sep 10 2020


       It might be gravity's only purpose when you really think about it.
Falling trees making sound if something is around to hear them.

       After finding that Smarter Every Day golf ball thing, I came across a follow-up video ... scaled up for a baseball. Linked for all those who like explodey things.
kdf, Sep 10 2020

       //a whip breaking the speed of sound on the moon//   

       There isn't a speed of sound on the moon. In it, yes. But rock is a difficult substance to swing a whip around in.
bs0u0155, Sep 10 2020

       //But rock is a difficult substance to swing a whip around in.//   

       Solid rock does not ring like a bell when struck.
There may be enough room inside the Moon to swing quite some number of dead cats without bothering a neighbour.

       "There may be enough room inside the Moon to swing quite some number of dead cats without bothering a neighbour."
-2 fries shy of a happy meal, Sep 11 2020

       But offering endless amusement for 8th. Perhaps we could chip in to buy him a hollowed out planetoid, and send him there. At least sell him a time-share.
kdf, Sep 11 2020

       Not entirely "endless" but pretty good.   

       Small but very important point; there is little or no enjoyment to be obtained from swinging a dead cat, even in a confined space.   

       For optimal entertainment, the activity is executed* using a live cat, and a "room" carefully chosen such that some portions of the perimeter are an interference fit with the radius of gyration of said cat, resulting in intermittent thumps and yowling.   

       Eventually, however, there's just the thumping. This indicates that it's time to get another cat.   


       *That verb was selected with particular care.
8th of 7, Sep 11 2020

       Then we don't really need to hollow out a planetoid for you. May I interest you in a surplus MOL (link)? It's just the right size. Admittedly, all I can get my hands on for you is one of the mockups - but I'm sure you have a launch vehicle in the garage and won't worry overmuch about pressurization. Skip down to the section of the spacesuits designed for those flights - more flexible, perfect for physical activity. Like swinging a (soon to be) dead cat ... or playing a round of Lunar Flog.
kdf, Sep 11 2020

       Going back to the gravity problem, perhaps you could put the whole caboodle on a tall crane, and drop it (at slightly less than free fall) while the shot is made.   

       The dome would then be winched up while the next player is lining up their shot.
Lemon, Sep 12 2020

       Big spring on the bottom would assist with the return upwards.
pocmloc, Sep 12 2020

       Lemon, Pocmloc ... By the time you’ve got a drop tower tall enough for that, you’ve got a space elevator or tower such as I suggested back on 9 September.   

       Which is not an original idea, many science fiction authors have already suggested it. First that comes to mind is Arthur C. Clarke - in “ 3001: The Final Odyssey“ the early chapters take place on a space elevator. It’s a 36000KM tall tower with platforms at various levels that experience different g constants. Useful for sport as well as scientific experiments and manufacturing processes.
kdf, Sep 12 2020

       How long does one golf hit take from hitting the ball with the bat, to the ball coming to rest? How high does the drop need to be to be falling at constant low G for that period of time? I reckon a fall of 1km would give you about 15 seconds at lunar gravity. The easiest way to retard the fall (to give lunar gravity rather than zero gravity whilst free-falling) would be to mount the device on a zero-friction sloping track. This could easily be built up a cliff or mountain or whatever. The track could even curve to maintain a constant acceleration despite inevitable friction from air and track. But then there would have to be a compensation mechanism to keep the green level as the device rotates around the curving track.
pocmloc, Sep 12 2020

       Hire the Vomit Comet (q.v.) and put the "player" in the environment suit as described - except the faceplate is an augmented reality projection.   

       All the projection allows the player to see is their own body, the club, and the ball (a real ball, tethered, containing sensors) - the rest of what the palyer sees is a simulated moonscape*/starfield.   

       The aircraft executes a dive, simulating freefall; when the green lamp illuminates, the shot is played. The computer system then extrapolates the path of the ball as if it were on the moon, and displays this to the player.   

       Et viola; a practical "Flog" simulation.   

       *Images of Milton Keynes could be substituted but are considered rather more desolate and unattractive than the Moon.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2020


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