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An Hypothesis For How Rockets Were Invented Before the Wheel (and the Ladder) on Kerbin


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I would imagine that at some point in the evolution of life on Kerbin, there was an extremely dense barked species of tree. It would have resembled an evergreen or palm of some type that would periodically lose all it's fronds or branch-like needle clusters becoming at times no more than an upright spike. Native to hotter climates, this tree would've drawn up large amounts of water in spring, to use during the summer, and also create nutrition internally, because the tree's inner chemistry mixed it's sap with the water and ground minerals to produce a nutrient broth. Interestingly.....in the right combination of soil conditions, liquid concentration, tensile strength of the individual tree's bark and the volatile properties of the trees own natural sap....a stray lightning strike would produce a rather spectacular natural missile, and a forest fire result in a fusillade to rival the most ambitious Terran fireworks displays.

Combine this with the Kerbals' love of fiery explosions...(their eye structure suggests a nocturnal creature in their ancestry, contributing to a tendency towards heliotropism) ...their natural durability....(tendency to survive falls, crashes, explosions, which probably also explains their natural optimism)...and one could easily imagine early Kerbalkind adulthood rituals involving riding these natural rockets into the sky. (Maybe 'Kerman' is not actually a family name, but a title given to any Kerbals who have launched themselves in this manner....or by more modern methods...and lived to tell about it.)

It's been theorized that man invented the wheel by watching trees fall over and rolling downhill. With trees doing far more exciting things on Kerbin....is it any wonder the wheel came much later? And with much more glorious ways to reach high places....wouldn't the ladder also be a late development?

-Crystal Mace, BS (Durned right it's BS..) PhD (You know this one, right...?) in my paper delivered before Committee preceding my sudden (and completely unjustified) dismissal.

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Well, it states that they had electricity before going to space. Which seems to discredit a lot of theories about the lack of wheels, but fits with this one: They toyed with the power of lightning to launch trees when they wanted to!

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It's not the invention itself, it's the application to spaceflight. Wheels that can survive weeks, even months or years of harsh exposure to outer space radiation and temperature fluctuations and function equally well (or bad) in low or high gravity, vacuum of high pressure atmosphere... Doesn't mean Kerbals didn't know about them before they come up with their first space rated wheels.

If we look at where certain technology was introduced in Earth's space program we don't fare much better:

  • First manned flight: 1961
  • First use of wheels: 1970 (Lunochod & moon rovers)
  • First use of wings: 1982

Doesn't mean we weren't aware of wheels before 1970 or of wings before 1982 (one can argue over the dates but the point, I hope, is clear).

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So, Kerbals invented rockets before wheels because they followed the example of explosive trees? I like it!:D

I subscribe to the view that they had such things beforehand, but art of the flying tree needs to happen. 

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On 3/1/2016 at 3:11 PM, Tw1 said:

So, Kerbals invented rockets before wheels because they followed the example of explosive trees? I like it!:D

I subscribe to the view that they had such things beforehand, but art of the flying tree needs to happen. 

I wish I had talent as a cartoonist.....I could so see a picture of some prehistoric ancestor of Jeb or Val rocketing into the sky mounted on a fire spurting tree-spike laughing insanely.....but I can't cartoon to save my life.....I just get the joke part, darnit.....:(

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 years later...

Bit of a necro here, but while we’re on the topic- Kerbals very obviously invented wheels before rockets as you can clearly see those yellow cargo trucks whizzing around inside the VAB and SPH or parked around the KSC. Space grade wheels need to be exceptionally durable, able to tolerate everything from powdery dust to coarse sand to jagged volcanic rocks and glass, without any ability to repair them (the nearest garage being on another planet) plus they need to survive the journey through the cold black void of hard vacuum to get there first; obviously building something that durable, able to tolerate extremes of heat and cold, high or low gravity and still go several orders of magnitude faster than real rovers ever did (all the Mars rovers go at centimetres per second flat out, not 10m/s as even the smallest rover wheels in KSP can) will take some time to develop relative to a mass-produced rubber tyre for use on nice smooth (ish!) roads.

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