The title has nothing to do with the rest of the post, it just popped into my head this weekend and has been stuck there ever since. I didn't say it. Wanted to. But didn't.
No camping trip last weekend, due to heavy rains. And although rain is always welcome here in the high desert, and Saturday was a dream, cabin fever settled in with a vengeance by Sunday afternoon. Thus the crying unicorns.
I know I've written about it a lot in the past, but I can't help but gush: the Cassini spacecraft is the single coolest thing we've ever flung into space (at least until the New Horizons probe gets to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt and eventually even our good friend The Oort Cloud). The Cassini mission just gets cooler and cooler, weirder and weirder, dipping and diving among the moons and rings and other strange critters orbiting Saturn, changing course every few weeks to check out something new and improbable. It's not a pre-programmed path, but done somewhat on-the-fly; whenever they find something cool they scoot Cassini past it for a closer look. A few months ago Cassini did a spectacular fly-by of Saturn's bizarre ice-spewing moon Enceladus, where it flew through a giant ice geyser to see what it was made of, how hot it was, etc.
Now it's back! Flying at an altitude of 30 miles, going 64,000 miles an hour, Cassini took this shot:
Let me repeat that: 64,000 mph, and skimming only 30 miles above the surface. That's an exacting flight path, particularly when it's being flown by people literally 800 million miles away.
Next pass will be from 15 miles high.
The reason Enceladus is getting so much attention is because of those geysers. They come out of a set of four great cracks in the ice called the Tiger Stripes. Beneath the cracks is some sort of heat source, probably in the form of tidal friction from Saturn (though the Babe in the Universe thinks, predictably, that it may be a black hole). The combination of water, a heat source, and the presence of carbon molecules (discovered in the ice geyser during the last fly-by) have made this number one with a bullet on the short list of places offering the possibility of life in our solar system. Nowhere else have water, a heat source, and carbon molecules been found in the same place. All three are considered prerequisites for life.
This is an exciting time. Ice on Mars. Methane lakes on Titan.
Life here on Earth is tenacious and resilient enough so that we find it in the Arctic, in deserts, in acidic environments, high radiation environments, huddled against underwater volcanic vents. Perhaps it's merely a hedge against my Godless world view, but I'd like to believe life is as plentiful out in space, and as infinitely varied, as it is here on Earth.
We might find out real soon.
I'd be remiss if I didn't add that Pedro pitched a poem of a game this last Saturday, his best outing of the season. 7 innings pitched, 1 earned run, 8 hits, 1 walk. He's back! And, not coincidently, the Metros are in first place.
The Yankees, meanwhile, with virtually the same record, are 10 games out of first place. Ah, the vicissitudes of baseball.