Science, Faith & Buzz-Bee Darts

NOTE: the following is somewhat divergent from the usual material I produce here. For one thing, it involves a personal experience. For another thing, it has a happy ending. But the context I see for this story is that in so much of the USA, the ability to produce the missing dart, and to teach this method to children, is held to be the insidious work of Satan. For example, this dimwit is still in Congress, perpetrating his Bible-based, anti-scientific, idiocy. He is not alone in that respect.

The seemingly vanished (like magic) dart. We could have offered silly faith-based explanations—oh, maybe the Ents stole it!—or maybe God hates foam projectiles littering Nature (then he shouldn't make them hard to find). We used science instead because we actually wanted to recover the dart.
So, the kid was tracking an imaginary enemy with his backup weapon, the inexpensive but still deadly at short range, Buzz Bee Tek 3 (a Nerf-blaster-like derringer). Later inquiry suggests the kid, who wants to be a spy (also an astronaut and a robotics engineer) was replaying the opening of "From Russia With Love".

Kid reported back to the HQ, indicating he had lost a Buzz Bee dart, one of a complement of three, thus a reduction in firepower—not a positive development. Also, the kid had been told to keep track of his damned darts.

After the kid gave up the initial search without finding the dart, I was forced to go do field work on the mystery. Eventually, after ground search of the suspected fall zone proved ineffectual, we settled upon conducting a ballistic reconstruction of the event.

The kid did not see exactly where the dart went when he fired it through a gap in a nearby tree, but he did recall seeing something (oh, like a dart) flash off to one side—so maybe we're talking about a ricochet. I have to stop and explain the meaning of "ricochet" to my young co-researcher.

After debriefing the agent on the original incident, we set up the reconstruction, and fire through the gap in the tree with the Tek 3. The yellow dart hits some obstructing twigs and ricochets up and to the left, lodging in a small branch. 

Hypothesis: the reason two ground searches had produced no Tek 3 dart is because the lost round ended up in the stupid tree. One of my original intuitive impressions was that the round had gone into the tree somewhere but the tree is big with thick foliage, and I didn't want to look around in the WHOLE thing.

A 10-second search of the portion of the tree suggested by our test shot, produced the lost round, which had come to rest at a height, about 5 and half feet up, that shielded it from the kid's normal range of vision. However, as soon as it was pointed out to him, he was excited that the MIA Tek 3 ammo had been recovered.

A couple of weeks ago, I had explained the basics of the scientific method to the kid, and discussed its efficacy in discerning useful answers to life's mysteries contrasted to the emotive but generally useless methods of religion and faith.

The kid is now convinced this science stuff has some real practical pizzazz.

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