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June 25, 2018

#2011: Newton's Trajectories

Newton's Trajectories

[The panel shows a shaded sphere with a rocket launched from its top to the right. Several trajectories are plotted around the sphere.]

[Trajectory 1 (in black) shows a successful circular orbit.]

Humans slip the bonds of Earth to travel the stars

[Trajectory 2 (in red) shows a ballistic arc that crashes into the sphere near the bottom.]

Civilization ends in fire

[Trajectory 3 (in red) shows a much shorter ballistic arc. No label.]

[Caption below the panel:]

In retrospect, Newton’s little cannonball drawing does a surprisingly good job illustrating the range of possible futures of our species.