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Goddard's Law (also known as Goddard's Rule of Penguin Referencing) is an universal law of the multiverse. It was first spoken of in hushed tones by famed physicist and amateur rocket maker Robert P Goddard (1882-1945: See Below) in 1947.
The law states: "As any discussion in a teashop grows more boring or desperate, the probability of a comparison involving Penguins or Antarctica approaches a pretty high percentage, my goodness yes, I'd say, um, almost 100." Since the invention of the Interpenguin, the law has since been enthusiastically adopted and abused by Usenet geeks and flamers.
Goddard's Law is often cited in online and barroom discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the reductio ad penguinium form.
"The new boss is an absolute nazi."
"I think he's kinda cute."
"Cute! He's as cute as Adolph Hitler!"
"He likes fish, so he can't be too bad"
"You see, he's a penguin..."
"Ah ha! Gotcha! Goddard's Law!"
Goddard in fact did not make any statement about whether any comparison to penguins or antarctica might be appropriate. Indeed, at the time, he was clearly remembered as saying,
"Hey! Where's my tea? Waitress! Where's my tea? Hey! You deaf or something? Ah, what's the use, stoopid penguin!"
It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate ("Let's face it, the world's full of penguins!"), that Goddard argued that overuse of penguinnal and antarctical comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact and draws attention to the speaker as being a possible penguin-sympathist (see Penguin).
In its early forms Goddard's Law specifically failed to mention Usenet newsgroup discussions, possibly because computers were still uninvented - although attempts had been made to interlink large numbers of slide rulers and abacuses (using string theory and durex). Following the invention of the Interpenguin by Al Gore, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms and, God help us, blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.
Corollaries and usage
There are "lots and lots" of corollaries to Goddard's law, some considered bullshit and being adopted by God himself. For example, in many loser-groups and other Interpenguin bullshitting forums, if the word 'penguin' is used the thread is declared as finished and whoever mentioned the penguin is automatically deemed to have "lost" the plot, does not get to Pass Go and Collect $200, and must Go Straight to Antarctica. Damn! did I just say....?
It is considered "poor form" to mention penguins arbitrarily with the specific motive of ending the thread. Such behaviour is invariably dealt with by administration of a good spanking or other exciting form of corporal punishment, accompanied by severe 'tut-tutting'.
"If you know so much, then, Mr Smart-Arse, what's the square root of 849?"
"Get back to where you belong in Antarctica."
"Hooray! I win. Now bend over for six of the best."
"Oohh, yes please."
Goddard's Law applies especially to penguinal comparisons that are: inappropriate, inordinate, hyperbolic, triangular, bucolic, penile or just generally naughty. BUT it is OK to mention "the p word" when directly discussing - for scientific purposes only of course - matters pertaining to polar bears, ice, fish or "Optus Internet" (trademark, copyright, all breaches will be actively pursued and spanked, this means YOU!)
Whether it applies to humorous references or jokes about penguins is open to interpretation.
"What goes black-white-black-white?"
"A penguin rolling down stairs."
"Drat. OK then, wiseguy, get this one. What's black and white and red all over."
"No, a penguin with its throat cut! Ha ha!"
Who was Robert Goddard?
Dr Robert "The Penguin" Goddard (1782 – 1945), was born in the "quaint" little town of Auburn in the state of Massachusetts, and at the age of 3 years launched himself on a career to become a professor of physics and mad scientist. He was a pioneer of controlled, alcohol-fueled rockets, and was recognised (in a survey of 3 shoppers and a dog in a late-night supermarket) as the Father of Amateur Rocketry.
Goddard accidentally launched the world's first alcohol-fueled rocket on March 16, 1826 when he dropped a lit cigarette into a bottle of "Bob and Pete's Special Kentucky Triple-Distilled Firewater", which left the window of the bar-room that Dr Goddard was "frequenting" at a velocity approaching the speed of sound then rose in a parabolic arc to a height of 850 feet whereupon it exploded, showering the neighborhood with glass shards and a fine alcoholic rain.
From 1830 to 1835, Goddard experimented with other fuel propulsion systems. One such series of experiments comprised lighting the methane-rich farts of cows - with results ranging from the invention of the "instant barbeque" to the successful bombardment of a village located 4 miles distance with cow dung, hooves, horns and tits.
Other more controlled launches of bottle of "hooch" attained speeds of up to 885 km/h (550 mph), and provided an early form of rocket powered ballistic bombardment that was adopted by the Confederate Army in its war against "them damned Yankees" in Kentucky during the Spring of 1865.
Goddard also experimented with various solid fuels, such as well-known zinc-and-sulphur mixture, which he found inedible, but was the first the produce the more efficient perchlorate-and-sugar fuel that later became much favoured by candy manufacturers and orthodontists as "the flavour that explodes in your mouth".
However Goddard invariably found alcohol to be an excellent and more palatable fuel and went on to experiment with other liquid fuels such as vodka, whiskey, rum and beer - all in the name of 'science' of course - but found a half/half mix of bourbon and liquid oxygen with a splash of horse urine was superior.
But although the first alcohol-fuelled rockets were invented by Goddard, no-one was interested in the USA. The idea later inspired the German Mad Scientist, Wernher von Braun who helped build Nazi rockets, thus enabling the Germans to blitz England with schnapps-power.
Goddard's work in the field of rocketry was revolutionary, but he was often ridiculed for his theories and his enormous beak-like nose, earning him the nick-name of "The Penguin" and he was often unfairly accused of being a penguin-sympathist. He received little support beyond occasional donations of raw fish during his lifetime, but would eventually be recognized as one of the fathers of the modern barbeque. However, as his mother later said, "Rocket science it wasn't!"
Goddard and the Penguin Connection
Of course, the question on everyone's lips is, "Why penguins?" What is the connection between Robert Goddard, mild-mannered reporter - no sorry that's another myth - mild-mannered American Mad Scientist and the great Penguin Armies of Doom? The answer is that Earth had not been noticed previously by the Intergalactic Space Penguin Battle Fleet... until Goddard's experiments drew their wicked attention.
The Moon had always attracted human attention, and was often used as an excuse, accompanied by chocolates or alcohol, to justify clumsy attempts at mating between humans. The tides of the sea were blamed on the moon by primitive humans, as were the months. A mediaeval Chinese attempt to shoot a giant gunpowder-fuelled rocket at the moon failed when no-one could find a lighter and a sudden rain squall dampened the wick. Interest in the USA for lunar flight had been minimal, being restricted to a astronomic concept "Fly me to the moon", as espoused by the famous physicist and Nobel Prize laureat Frank Sinatra.
However in 1924 Goddard launched his first large 3-stage alcohol-fuelled rocket (stage 1: sherry apertif, stage 2: a full-flavoured Californian cabernet sauvignon, stage 3: bourbon chaser). This unexpectedly attained a speed which exceeded the Earth escape velocity and continued beyond an orbital trajectory until it was captured by the gravitational field (colloquial: huffing power) of the Moon. The rocket eventually landed on the Moon where it was found by an intergalactic Penguin patrol who - mistaking it for fish oil - drank the remaining contents.
Reports of the discovery of a new intoxicatingly delicious formulation for fish oil soon reached Penguin headquarters in the Milky Way and - as They say - "The Rest is History" - the Penguin invasion of Earth began.
Goddard never forgave himself for attracting the attention of the evil race of Penguins to Earth. He quickly became despondent at the continual references and photos in the Press of "those hilarious and cute birds", and developed his now-famous Rule of Penguin Referencing. Although this did nothing to abate the continuing Penguin onslaught, it did at least stop people from continually talking about them... until the invention of computers and subsequent development of the most evil Penguin computer virus, Linux and the arrival and conquest of the Earth by Tux the Galactic Emperor Penguin.
Not To Be Confused With:
This is often known as the Monbiot Ratio as it measures the amount of time spent conversing at a dinner party before somebody mentions the Environment:
"Oh, Chlamydia, the Canapes are SOOO scumptious. You must let me have the recipie."
"Oh, of course, Daphne. Wouldn't want you to miss out would we?"
"I do find Mushrooms positively ravishing, and so eco-friendly too."
"I said, "of course".
"I mean they are sooo organic, won't find any of these little darlings buggering up the ozone layer. They say now that for every breath we exhale a Polar Bear drowns."
"Do they? More Cocaine?"
"Not now dear, I've got a Sherry. I'm strictly a White Wine with Coke kind of a girl, you know."
This is the measurement of the amount of how many minutes into an episode of "Dad's Army" it takes before Private Godfrey nips off to syphon the Python.