Have you ever watched a space shuttle takeoff? Think about the amount of energy being dispensed before the whole apparatus begins to lift off the ground. And, once it does, it’s slow. It takes an insane amount of energy before momentum is on the side of the launch team.
Specifically, around 44 million Newtons of energy is pulling the shuttle, boosters, rockets, and payload to the ground. Every single newton of thrust until beyond 44 million will lose the battle to gravitational pull. Imagine if we did a cost-benefit analysis at 1 million newtons and decided it’s impossible to propel the shuttle into space. Or 10 million. Or 40 million. No hint of movement. It can’t be done, right?
There are physical, chemical, biological, economic, and psychological thresholds and constraints. They are real. Some are easily quantifiable and measurable. None give a damn what you think is hard, reasonable, or possible. They just exist; and if you come up even one nanoparticle shy, the shuttle won’t budge. In market adoption of new technology, people call this the tipping point. In launch engineering, it is precisely the point at which thrust is greater than gravity. And there’s another constraint later connected to escape velocity.
Weight loss, muscle gain, behavioral alteration, pain management, lifestyle implementation, nutritional changes, emotional state, new language acquisition, sport or art/instrument proficiency, most skills are just like this. If you come up one micronewton short, it feels like you haven’t done anything at all.
Instant gratification destroys our personal space-launches. We may indeed throw 44 million newtons at an endeavor. That’s a lot. It “should be” enough, right? Whoa whoa whoa. “Should”? This journey has no place for “should.” There is “is.” And there is “isn’t”. There is no “should.” You’re confusing the feedback of “insufficient” with “impossible.”
Confronted with insufficient thrust, people want to shut off the boosters. Start again later, this time with 43 million newtons. “See,” they say. “I’ve tried everything.”
Well, you’ve tried a lot. But by definition you haven’t tried sufficiency. So there the rockets remain, seemingly welded to the ground.
Take it a little further. Imagine someone crosses the 44 million newton mark. The entire ship breaks off the ground. This is a 12 week success story. At 1000 feet in the air, we deem the effort a little much, and cut the boosters. Oops.
Take it further yet. Imagine you’re going 20,000 miles per hour. This is a 6-12 month success story. You overcame stop inertia. You have momentum. But guess what. Escape velocity is 25,000 miles per hour. You will not cruise in orbit on low effort unless you have another 25% increase in velocity. “But I’ve already worked so hard,” you reason. You have good trajectory. You are cookin. But physical laws don’t care about any of that or your opinion.
Orbit still requires support. Not anywhere near as much as launch. But still some. Obtaining orbit? That’s equivalent to a 5 year success story. It’s rare. It’s difficult. But it’s not impossible. And when we alter expectations, it’s no big deal. If, however, we’re looking for escape velocity when we haven’t even done pre-launch checks, we’re being fools.
People skip the math (nutrition), skip the astronaut training (lifting), skip the system checks (sleep and stress management), burn up a few newtons (no more than basic lab tests), and then desperately cry out, “this thing cannot be moved!”
Oh it can. It does. It will. You just gotta know: fitness is a space-launch.