More Calvino. They go up to the Moon to gather Moon-milk, which is to be found there.

“Moon-milk was very thick, like a kind of cream cheese. It formed in the crevices between one scale and the next, through the fermentation of various bodies and substances of terrestrial origin which had flown up from the prairies and forests and lakes, as the Moon sailed over them. It was composed chiefly of vegetal juices, tadpoles, bitumen, lentils, honey, starch crystals, sturgeon eggs, molds, pollens, gelatinous matter, worms, resins, pepper, mineral salts, combustion residue. You had only to dip the spoon under the scales that covered the Moon’s scabby terrain, and you brought it out filled with that precious muck.”


The image in the background is taken from this page about Near-Earth asteroid 3753 Cruithne.

Cruithne is sometimes called Earth’s second moon. It isn’t really as it doesn’t orbit the Earth directly. It orbits a kind of balance-point between the Earth and the Sun. In the top-left image, you can see it has a kidney-bean shaped orbit. That’s the solar system, with the Sun in the middle, then the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars (the outer ring) are shown. Cruithne gets close to the Earth, then orbits away, swings by the Sun at Mercury’s orbit, then comes round again. It doesn’t go all the way round the Sun, just a loop like that.

It orbits at almost the same speed as the Earth, so it does a cycle about once per one of our years. Each year, its orbit moves along a touch, tugged along by the Earth. You can see that in the top-right and bottom-left images.

After 385 years, it’s moved round enough to get roughly back to where it started. So it only actually goes all the way round the sun after almost 4 centuries.

There’s something about Calvino and the game of consequences he plays, and Cruithne’s orbit and how we can take it as an idea pump. What would it be like to live on a city like on the second moon? What would the everyday be like?

This is why I like design, because we can look at all these crazy things and float off into wildly abstracted spaces, but in the end it has to come down to stuff, and the stuff I really like is the everyday. That’s the important stuff. So what are dishwashers like in this city? What is going to work like? You point towards the galactic centre for two centuries then away for another two. How does that manifest on weekdays?

Matt Webb, S&W, posted 2006-04-06 (talk on 2006-02-23)