Sunday, April 01, 2007

How 'bout that weather on Saturn?

The solar system has been coming up with some good entertainment lately. First we briefly had ten planets with Eris. Then twelve. Then eight.

I am now hypnotized by this storm on Saturn (still number six.) The thing is a damn hexagon! There seems to be some viable explanations for this. The most likely proposed by Neils Bohr's grandson who has done some relatively simple experiments with water spinning at high rates of speed resulting in geometric patterns including hexagons. This means that Saturn is probably spinning at an incredibly fast rate. A day on Saturn is currently estimated at about 10 hours, it may be more like 1 after they figure this out. Fine I can handle that. But there is more.

The weird-ass hexagonal storm is on the north pole. On the south pole it has a creepy eye shaped hurricane. This should freak out even Arthur C. Clarke. Someone has already proposed in jest that there is a giant bolt and hex nut holding Saturn together. You have to give these geeks credit for having good sense of humor, especially when they are at a loss to scientifically explain these phenomenon. (If the north pole storm were a pentagon, the jokes would be all too easy.) My explanation is that Saturn is just vain and wanted to be in the spot light again. Ever since Galileo built the first telescope Saturn has been the cool one with the rings. Over the centuries, the rings lost their novelty. So Saturn got a PR agent and started bringing its A-game again. In addition they added in mega lightning storms on the equator every summer (29.5 years, ) and liquid lakes on the moon Titan. Which makes Titan another likely site for life in our galaxy (in third place after Mars and Europa.) Also bear in mind that Titan is essentially a planet on its own and is larger than Pluto or even Mercury.

So Saturn is still the most sci-fi of all the planets. But there is probably even weirder shit out there. After all, it is a great big universe.

5 comments:

Lucidiocy said...

Wow.

Now that's some impressive photography.

T

Evil Genius said...

T,

Thanks, I took them myself. I had to edit my thumb out of the top right corner of the hex storm. I'll have to get another shot the next time I'm out by Saturn.

-EG

Grant Miller said...

There must be absolutely hundreds of stars. Amazing.

pezda said...

The bizarre hexagonal shape is obviously an elaborate practical joke on us by Saturn's life forms which dwell in its liquid metallic hydrogen ocean.

Evil Genius said...

GM,

At least. Maybe more.

Pezda,

I doubt it. Staurnians are usually quite austere.

-EG