Thursday, September 21, 2006

Most Extreme Idiots

So a couple nights ago, I was flicking through the late-night TV, and stumbled across a show called “Most Extreme Sports”.

Now, as a sane person, I automatically avoid anything with ‘extreme’ in the title. Not because I’m against taking it ‘to the max’, but because ‘extreme’ is one of those words that has been so over used, it’s become meaningless.

For example, you can buy ‘extreme’ potato chips now.

When a potato-based crunchy snack can be considered ‘extreme’, ‘slightly bored’ must describe being tied up in a chair and forced to watch the first half of an episode of ‘Full House’ over and over again for approximately 2.8 billion years.

Anyway, I digress.

This show used ‘extreme’ in the most common current usage of the word, where it means “People doing dumb shit and getting hurt for your amusement”.

So I left it on.

Hey, why not try to jump off a 30 story building on rollerblades and try and land in a bathtub of water? Could it possibly be inadvisable?

However, on this show, I found the dumbest man in the universe:

He appeared on the screen, gave the uniform grin of a short-bus rider… and proudly announced that he was going to break the sound barrier on a bike.

Now, let me be perfectly clear with this. I don’t mean on a motorbike, as stupid as that would be to attempt, he was going to attempt to break the sound barrier on a regular bicycle.

That’s right, one you have to pedal.

He was going to do this by riding his bike down the side of a mountain.

Wanna know the funniest part? He was taking this shit seriously.

I mean, don’t you think that at some point, someone would have told him that this was impossibleand by impossible, I don’t mean ‘highly unlikely’, I mean breaking the laws of physics impossible. About as possible as stopping a freight train by laying one of your testicles on the track

Ok, to elaborate on the, here’s physics 101:

Every body on earth has a terminal velocity. Terminal Velocity is the speed at which a freefalling object will stop accelerating and remain at a constant speed. Basically, it’s the point at which the force of gravity and the force of drag from wind resistance equal out.

For the average human body, this speed is roughly 120 miles per hour. If we’re generous and add a bit of weight for the bike, let’s say that increases to 130 miles per hour.

Of course, with terminal velocity, the only thing acting as drag is wind resistance, so the bike on the mountain etc takes away that little advantage.

So let’s be even more generous and say that through pedal power, he can increase that speed by roughly 30mph.

So, this guy is looking at a top speed of, at the very most, 150mph…

This is just a tiny bit shy of the 761mph required to reach the speed of sound. 611mph short actually.

It must be a bit of a hurdle to overcome, I can imagine his trainer:

“Ok, idiot boy, we’re a little short on the power, so I want you to dig deep down and somehow supply the same amount of forward thrust as a fucking passenger jet! You can do it! Harness the power of your stupidity!”

So there we go. 15 minutes research on the internet would have proven that this feat was impossible. With gravity and pedal power factored in, he still has to add to that the same amount of speed that a passenger jet cruises at…in fact, more than a passenger jet.

Even if he did it, it couldn’t end well. It would be like me sitting you in a wind tunnel, sitting you on a bike that’s vibrating like a bachelorette party-favor hooked up to the national grid…putting a 761mph wind in your face and saying “Hold on!”

However, one other thing about this bothered me even more than the physics of this.

Ok, not everyone knows physics (even the schoolboy stuff I just said), it is possible that someone is dumb enough to believe that if you ride a back down a big enough hill, that you’re going to just keep accelerating indefinitely.

But if you were attempting a land-speed record, no matter how dumb or inadvisable, wouldn’t you at least do a little research into other people who’ve attempted speed records and succeeded?

I mean, look at the car that holds the current land speed record. The Thrust SSC (yay, the brits!), the car that broke the sound barrier.

If you’ve never seen this vehicle, let me describe it. It’s essentially a cockpit that weighs about 5 ounces, suspended between two frickin’ jet engines taken from the British F4 Phantom Jet Fighter. These jets produce 50,000lbs of thrust

Even with all that power it just managed to break the sound barrier. It managed a speed of 763 mph

Don’t you think a single glance at even a picture of the SSC might have made him think:

“…and I wanna try this on a push-bike?!?!”

Put yourself in his position. Look at these pictures and imagine the pitch session:

“Ok, idiot boy, here’s what we want you to do. We want you to break the sound barrier on the ground.”

“Okey dokey!”

“Ok, here’s the one and only vehicle in the world that’s managed it so far.”

“Oh boy, that looks like fun! I’ll do it, I can’t wait to try!”

“Hold your horses there boy…we want you to do the same thing as this:”

“…but on this:”

Honestly, how many of you would have said “I’ll do it!”

Oh, and in case your wondering what happened…His bike snapped in half when he got to about 90 MPH. For some reason a racing bicycle didn’t appreciate being taken to 90mph on rough rocky terrain.

The guy attempting it broke nearly every single bone in his body as he left his bike and continued down the mountain.

This whole episode has proven one thing to me:

Nature punishes stupidity.


Too lazy to sign in said...

Another point of view....

See, where you were thinking how impossible this would be, I would have been thinking "And just how does he think he's going to stop?"

Assuming he did actually reach his goal (which by the way, I wonder how he planned on proving/knowing he did it... Did he plan to just do a "yell test"? Or did he actaully know what speed he needed to reach and had somone "clocking" him?)... Where was I? Oh yes, how did he plan to stop if he did reach his goal? That little one inch or so of rubber break? Keep going until he slowed down? "Flipping a U-turn" and going back up the mountain?

Thanks for the laugh... and the education. ;)


MC Etcher said...

If nature is so harsh on stupid people, why are there so many stupid people left after millions of years? How did they live long enough to procreate?

OzzyC said...

Sounds like someone is trying for a Darwin Award.

PJ said...

Ah, but you were watching it!

Paulius said...

Enigma : I hadn't actually thought of that...but then again I found it difficult to get past how stupid the actual attempt was in the first place.

Etcher : I said Nature 'punishes' the stupid...not kills em all off. Pity...

Ozzy : My thoughts exactly

PJ : I was watching it for one simple reason...the part when he inevitably broke his ass into a million pieces. It's like a train wreck...horrible, but you can't look away.

...and idiots like this have a sort of morbid fascination about them.