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Hey, Matt:

On a recent "where are they now" TV show, Ronny James Dio said that he wanted to be the first person to play on the moon. If we got tickets, would we be able to hear anything, or would it be like finding a rainbow in the dark?

-- Jon and Lisa, Ocean Beach

So the wee metalhead wants to play on the moon, eh. Could the man be suffering publicity envy? To prove once and for all that he's not just a second-rate, medieval Ozzy Osbourne, he'll go the bat-biter one better. The moon should outrank MTV. So Ronnie rounds up some NASA roadies and they schedule a one-nighter in the Sea of Tranquility. Maybe the show opens with that goofus, pie-eyed Lance Bass, since Lance and the Russians will already be in the neighborhood. Even if the two of you have the best seats in the house, you won't hear a thing, of course. The moon has nothing that could rightly be called an atmosphere, just a smattering of atoms drifting in a void. To transmit sound you need many molecules right up close to one another. Sound, to simplify it slightly, is just a vibration that starts in one place and is transmitted mechanically toward your ear through the intervening molecules. Do we really expect Ronnie to know this? Probably not.

The Quiet Side of the Moon

Hey, Matt! You sorta got the guitar on the moon thing kinda wrong. Now everybody in OB is saying, "Oh, wow, dude, the moon is a really harsh place, man."... Ronnie James Dio, whoever he is, may have an electric guitar he can pack to the moon. Electric guitars don't rely on acoustic pickups, instead they use a magnetic pickup; the movement of the steel guitar string through a magnetic field alters the field and induces voltage in a coil which can be amplified. Then the music or sound can be fed back into the helmet of anybody who wants to listen to Mr. Dio. Interestingly, the sound would be a bit different from the same notes played here on Earth because the acoustic effects will not be present, making the moon sound unique, and thus everybody in OB would be saying, "Oh, wow, dude! The moon is really awesome, man!"

-- Craig, the net.

Ronnie's a singer, so we might have some technical problems with the magnetic pickup scenario. But he could take a tip from Madonna and Britney and supply the audience with helmet-mounted tape players and lip synch everything. I have to admit the picture of the whole audience wired up to each instrument in the band is compelling. Adds an interesting dimension to the mosh pit too. BTW, Ronnie's best known as the guy who stepped in when Ozzy Osbourne quit Black Sabbath. Actually, I consider it a point in your favor that you didn't know.

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