In the finest traditions of Democratic Party respect for science and scientific inquiry, congressional candidate Brianna Wu, running for office in the 8th Congressional District in Massachusetts, tweeted on a threat that few of us had ever considered.
Ms. Wu, a transgender activist and prominent social justice warrior in the gamergate controversy, warned us that companies that colonize the moon would be in possession of enormous power.
“The moon is probably the most tactically valuable military ground for earth,” the tweet said. “Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs.”
SpaceX announced Monday it is planning to launch a tourism venture to the Moon in 2018.
After users on social media questioned her scientific literacy, the congressional candidate clarified that the tweet was “talking about dropping [rocks] into our gravity well.”
Small space rocks can indeed do nuclear-weapons-scale damage if hitting the Earth at orbital speeds. But launching one from the moon, even setting aside issues of aiming, would still require escaping the satellite’s gravitational field, a task that requires the power and thrust contained in a huge rocket.
Actually, the rocket wouldn’t need to be “huge.” The moon has 1/4 the mass of earth so its escape velocity is far less than our home planet’s. The Apollo command modules had a very small rocket that managed to achieve escape velocity without any trouble.
But that’s hardly the point. The idea of dropping rocks from the moon is loony. But Wu then doubled down on her idiocy by claiming that what she really meant was dropping rocks into the earth’s “gravity well.” Not only didn’t she correct the whole notion of “dropping” anything from the moon, but she failed to note that our satellite is already in earth’s “gravity well.” Otherwise, the moon would go flying off into the solar system rather than orbiting rather sedately and predictably as it does now.
You can imagine how social media reacted to this stupidity. And, like any true feminist, Wu’s reaction to the criticism and hilarity at her expense was also predictable.
One Internet wit posted on Twitter the footage of an astronaut hitting a golf ball on the moon, with the words: “Alan Shepard: FORE! [destroys Leningrad].”
Ms. Wu blamed criticism of her on sexism: “that’s the danger of being a woman on the internet!” she exclaimed.
“Like, you all can make fun of that statement, but it will still be true,” another Wu tweet said. “This is why the militarization of space is so dangerous.”
I suppose if you say something loud enough and believe in it strongly enough, it will somehow end up being true.
Wu isn’t the only uproariously funny scientific illiterate in the Democratic Party. A few years ago, Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson said during a congressional hearing that we should think twice about sending more soldiers to Guam because it would then be in danger of tipping over.
A Washingtonian “Best and Worst” poll of congressmen voted Rep. Johnson “Worst Speaker” and “Most Clueless.”
We should all root for Wu to win so Mr. Johnson won’t feel like the only science dunce in the House.