Thursday, July 15, 2010

News of the Weird

One of the weirder headlines of the week: Giant Propellers Discovered In Saturn's Rings. It's a tad misleading. They don't spin or anything. And as far as I can make out, they aren't even really solid. The center is a brand new class of moon, one that is mid-size and embedded in the rings, and (I think) there is material streaming out thousands of miles in both directions, held in place by gravity and resonance, a concept I must admit I don't entirely understand.

As opposed to gravity, which no one understands. There was an article in the NY Times yesterday about a theory that gravity doesn't even exist, but is rather a byproduct of thermodynamics. I didn't entirely understand that either.

I digress. These space propellers are several miles wide, several thousand miles long. Their orbits are thus far unpredictable; they've been photographed before, but no one is sure when and where one of the Damned Things will turn up next. A picture of one is below. Unlike the propeller, the red arrow is not actually embedded in the rings. That would be weird.



Odd headline #2: Frustrating Zombie Satellite Still Adrift In Space. Apparently it is out of its intended orbit and can't be controlled, but is still sending out signals, and signal interference could kill other satellites. Following the zombie analogy, those satellites it kills would then turn into zombie satellites, causing all sorts of mayhem up there, but I think I may be stretching the analogy too far.

Photo by NASA's ever-fascinating Cassini probe.

7 comments:

ArtSparker said...

I've known a few zombie satellites in my time...

Poet in Residence said...

I've never believed this gravity nonsense. I've always gone for the idea of electro-magnetic-spin attraction. But to be fair I have to admit that I was always a school dunce when it came to subjects like physics and chemistry.

Shayna Prentice said...

I don't understand these things either, but am awed by them just the same ... Venus and the waxing Crescent Moon were beautiful the other night and I thought of you and your lovely blog posts ... hope your back is feeling like itself again!

Clowncar said...

Yep, Art, I've known more than a few folks habitually wandering out of established orbits and making the internal wiring of all they encounter go "pssssst!".

PiR, I've always thought the idea of warped space-time as the reason for gravity elegant and fun to think about. Looks like the particular theory is about to bite the dust. 110 years later. That one has some legs.

They are dancing again tonight, Shayna! As I type. They'll grace the weekend skies, then go their separate ways. Until next month.

Margaret said...

For some reason, the "frustrating" in "Frustrating Zombie Satellites" is hysterically funny.

Jasmine said...

A lot of this technology/science goes over my head too but I have a feeling it won't be too long before a series or movie springs from these headlines.

Thank you for your encouraging commentearlier :)

Gordo said...

I wonder if the zombie satellites could be persuaded to go after the propellers instead?