I Would Be Remass Not To Mention This

Rainbow Farts

I know what you’re thinking: What could possibly be wrong with this meme that warrants a precision smackdown by Stupid Bad Memes? It’s got a Viking, a unicorn, an assault weapon (to appeal to gun enthusiasts), space travel, inexplicable space lightning. Only a professional grump could find something to complain about.

And that’s my cue.

Yes, this meme is pretty sweet, but there’s a tiny, tiny issue. See, the unicorn isn’t really fueled by rainbow farts.

Your basic rocket (or rocket-like unicorn) works by squirting some kind of material – called reaction mass or remass – through a nozzle. Newton’s Third Law does the driving; just as the rocket pushes against its remass, the remass pushes against the rocket with an equal force in the opposite direction. Thus does the rocket accelerate forward.

In chemical rockets, the remass is born from the fiery combustion of a fuel. On Earth, fires are supported by atmospheric oxygen, but in outer space O2 is conspicuously absent; ergo, chemical rockets in space must also bring along an oxidizer. The hot, expanding mixture of burnt fuel and oxidizer becomes the reaction mass against which the rocket pushes.

That’s one way to fly a rocket, but it’s not the only way. There’s no law that says that a rocket’s reaction mass and its fuel must be the same material. The thermal nuclear rocket – which has been ground-tested but never flown – uses the heat from a nuclear reactor to push compressed hydrogen through a nozzle. The expanding cloud of superheated hydrogen never comes into direct contact with the nuclear fuel.

On a more user-friendly level, the water bottle rocket uses water as the reaction mass and air pressure as the “fuel”. Again, the fuel and reaction mass need not be the same material.

So it might not be correct to say that this unicorn, magnificent as it is, is fueled by rainbows. Clearly it uses some rainbowish material as its reaction mass, but there’s no indication about what’s being used to generate the energy that pushes the rainbow-stuff out through the unicorn’s…um…nozzle. In other words, if rainbow-stuff is the unicorn’s reaction mass, what is the fuel? Could the unicorn be nuclear powered? Given the level of incredibleness already displayed in this meme, that seems like a safe bet.

One other quibble: argument is properly spelled without an e in the middle of it.

Other than that…awesome.

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