Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Saturnian Weirdness

Curiouser and curiouser.

In this week's headlines: Saturn's moon Prometheus is creating giant snowballs in the wake of it's gravitational field. It pulls the material off the F ring, and the gathered material creates enough gravity on its own to clump together into snowballs, following Prometheus around like ducklings. Prometheus also creates these weird "fans" in the F ring:

More curious still are "mysterious tumbling objects" that go ricocheting back-and-forth across the F ring before vanishing from sight. Sometimes they have comet-like tails, and their orbits can't be tracked. Note that UFO abductees are not reporting this, NASA's Cassini probe is. These things are real. There is such tumbling chaos in Saturn's rings, billions of tiny particles in orbit, pulling and colliding, but from out of this chaos spins rings and moons and ripples and spokes and fans and propellers. So much stunning complexity, born from Kepler's three simple, elegant laws of planetary motion. The idea that these structures form out of the infinite permutations of a few simple laws of physics fills me with more awe, more childlike wonder, than the notion they were created by a God.




Going to Rockygrass this weekend. Three days of bluegrass and hula hoops and friends and beer and camping and dozing in the hammock and playing in the water. Big Fun. Summer revolves around Rockygrass in the same way winter revolves around Christmas. It lies in the sweet spot, at the center of the season.

5 comments:

Rudi said...

You wrote:
>The idea that these structures form out of the infinite permutations of a few simple laws of physics fills me with more awe, more childlike wonder, than the notion they were created by a God.

We better keep you away from the fractal images then. No telling what might happen.

Wishing you more beauty from seeming simplicity (I suppose that could describe children too :-).

Rudi

Poet in Residence said...

Saturn is to us a strange and magical planet. We are knocked out by its unfolding mysteries. And yet Saturn compared to other, as yet unvisited planets in the Milky Way, may in the end be quite bland. We cannot begin to imagine what may be "out there" to use SF parlance.

Clowncar said...

Rudi, fractals just might make my head explode. Oops, just did! And beauty from seeming simplicity describes alotta things. Thanks for the wish.

PiR, I'm guessing the unimaginable is pretty much commonplace out there. I like to think about what it would be like to live on a planet near the center of the galaxy - huge blazing stars everywhere. Or, conversely, a planet revolvoing around a star not part of a galaxy. A night sky nearly devoid of light. How lonely that would feel.

Poet in Residence said...

Maybe it's the giant spiders?

Clowncar said...

or Cxaxukluth, hiding out with the Migo on Pluto.