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Mostly Harmless: Three Douglas Adams Inventions We Wish Were Real

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FlyingFlying
This might not be in most people’s top 10 lists when it comes to beloved Adams inventions, but it’s one part of the books that has most stuck with me over the years. Of course, mankind has already mastered flight, you might argue. And indeed, we’ve been scuttling around the sky in airplanes and helicopters and hot-air balloons and wingsuits and whatever else for over a century. But here I’m speaking about non-assisted flight — more Superman, less Rocketeer. In typically squiggly Adams logic, there isn’t some arcane mystical trick to flying — all you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss. “Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that presents the difficulties,” says the Guide, demonstrating its knack for understatement. You can’t be consciously thinking about trying to fly or it won’t work, so you have to basically trip and/or fall and be distracted by something at the last minute that takes your mind off your impending splat. It makes absolutely no sense, but it also makes perfect sense. I’m still hoping I’ll pull this one off at some point, but preferably just while tripping walking down the sidewalk rather than, say, being thrown out of zeppelin.

The Guide says:

If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination), or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above the ground in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.

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