Facts Can Be Fascinating

Jo An Fox-Wright Maddox
3 min readAug 18, 2021

Sometimes when I’m feeling down, which has happened a lot lately with all the bad news about the virus and investigations that aren’t going fast enough and my own personal economic crisis, I find it helps to put myself in perspective. I don’t mean that I’m only one of billions of humans on earth; that just makes me feel claustrophobic. I need to get away from people. It helps to look at an even larger picture.

For example: I used to love the “Tilt-a-Whirl” ride at amusement parks — you know, the one that spins you around in small circles while the cars spin around each other, and they all go in a larger circle. I used to love the feeling of being spun around in circles, the centrifugal force throwing me back against the seat or side to side with the wind blowing in my face and wrecking my hairdo. A few weeks ago, there was a small carnival in the school parking lot just across the street from our little neighborhood, and Dave, who worked as a carnie in his youth, and I decided to go on some rides and eat some carnival food. There were only a couple of rides I wanted to go on — my favorite Tilt-a-Whirl and the Ferris wheel. Neither Dave nor I had any desire to be stood on our heads or go on anything resembling a roller coaster.

I quickly discovered that I no longer can enjoy the Tilt-a-Whirl. Some time in the last many years since I’d been on one, my perception and endurance for being flung has changed. Watching things fly by made me feel dizzy and queasy. Instead of feeling free and happy, I was content to not hurl before the ride was finished. I think I could have managed the Ferris Wheel, but it was closed. We got some funnel cake and left.

Think about flying in airplanes. I love to fly. I love the take-offs, watching the land move away, watching the buildings and landscape shrink. I have no sense of movement, although I logically know we are speeding through the air at an average speed of 547–575 miles per hour. I am just sitting, though. The clouds are moving. I feel stationary.

I just looked up how fast we’re moving as I sit here and write and you sit here and read. The Earth is spinning 1,000 miles per hour, just rotating, like the seat in the Tilt-a-Whirl. That’s a day. Then it’s also spinning around the Sun at 67,000 mph, or 18.5 miles per second. Those are the cars spinning around each other. That’s a year.

But our entire solar system is spinning around its center at 140 miles per second. Just let that sink in: 140 miles per SECOND…

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Jo An Fox-Wright Maddox

Former English professor ponders life, love, and how to leap tall buildings in a single bound.