Tag Archives: science

How’s Uranus?

Never one to shirk from gutter humor in times of stress and anxiety, I was amused to read a recent article from Popular Science that “…our image of Uranus hasn’t advanced substantially beyond the featureless blue beachball captured by Voyager 2’s vintage instruments in 1986.”

Uranus blog

Uranus is an odd planet. Where others spin, Uranus rolls, tipped on its side with its poles pointing generally toward or away from the sun. Its magnetic field is bonkers too, offset from the planet’s center and tipped at a wild 60 degrees to the side. Planetary astronomers are blind to that magnetic field from Earth, although the Hubble Space Telescope can occasionally catch an indirect glimpse via Uranus’s auroras—which can shine far from the poles.

Last year, while combing through NASA’s archives of the Voyager 2 mission, two planetary scientists noticed something earlier analyses had overlooked—a blip in Uranus’s magnetic field as the spacecraft cruised through a magnetic bubble of sorts.  They spotted a special 60-second long section of Voyager 2’s 45-hour flyby where the magnetic field rose and fell in an instantly recognizable way.

They deduced that it might be a plasmoid.  Plasmoids are charged globs of atmosphere blown out into space when the solar wind whips around planets. Losing such blobs can dramatically transform a world over a long period of time, and studying them can provide insight into how planets live and die.

The Voyager team initially assumed the magnetic wackiness was linked to the Uranus’s belly flop position, but when the spacecraft flew by Neptune (which stands up straight) three years later it saw the same apparent mismatch between the planet and its field. Now researchers assume that something about the worlds’ inner workings must set their magnetic fields apart.

The article was titled:

“Uranus blasted a gas bubble 22,000 times bigger than the Earth.”

In other words:

Uranus farted!

Autumnal Equinox

Looking for a brief explanation of the autumnal equinox on Saturday, September 22nd?

Autumnal equinox

For an instant, the plane of the equinoctial colure will be perpendicular to the earth’s orbital radius vector.

Simple as that!

 

More Per Capita

While I am off thinking of more items to grouse and complain about, I realized that you should have something other than The Donald’s statue to contemplate.

Those of you in Canada or Mexico can choose a state comparable to your province.

MorePer Capita

Scientific Puns

One more round of puns.

You may thank (or curse) HighIQHumor for these:

Scientific

Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi

2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won Ton

1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microScope

Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecond

Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 Billigram

Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knotfurlong

365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer = 1 Lite year

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling

Half a large intestine = 1 semicolon

1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz

Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower

Shortest distance between two jokes = a straight line

2,000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbird

1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 Fig Newton

1,000 cc’s of wet socks = 1 Literhosen

8 nickels = 2 Paradigms

 

And, for your added pleasure:

The past, the present and the future walk into a bar. It was tense.

Did you hear about the two guys who stole a calendar? They each got six months.

Do you think that humans will ever walk on the sun? (It would have to occur at night.)

Pluto Redux

 

Plutoredux1b

I had written an earlier post – The Demise of Pluto – lamenting its reduction in status to that of dwarf planet or plutoid.  In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to its new status and we were left with eight rather than nine planets.  In my (humble) opinion, this is a clear travesty of justice.  The recent NASA New Horizons flyby mission and subsequent gathering of data have reinforced my efforts to return Pluto to its rightful place in our solar system.

With a nod to David Letterman and List of X, I have ten reasons to elevate Pluto back to planethood:

1.  Pluto has 5 moons – Charon, Kerberos, Styx, Nix and Hydra. Hey, that’s five times the number that Earth has. Mars only has two and Venus and Mercury have none. Plus the fact is that several of the moons can be mistaken for cosmological forms of Netsuke. Shown below, the one on the left is Nix or penis without testicles and the one on the right is Hydra or squatting doggie.

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2.  There have been no Donald Trump sightings on Pluto. [As an aside, The Donald is opposed to reinstating Pluto to planet status because he feels that many other undocumented dwarf planets would ask for planet status thus depriving the existing planets of their livelihoods. “I like my planets big and full of gas” said The Donald. “Those other things out there aren’t real planets.”]

3.  It is completely virgin territory, unscathed by war, pestilence, plague, terrorism and other acts of inhumanity. In other words, it is an ideal spot for humans to start war, pestilence, plague, terrorism and other acts of inhumanity.

4.  Even though it took the New Horizons space probe ten years to get from Earth to Pluto, when any of the above acts occur, news media will still report upon it live in seconds.

5.  It will provide innumerable job opportunities for land developers, exotic travel specialists, food franchisers (anyone for a Pluto dog?), doomsayers, soothsayers, creationists, revisionists, recidivists, spelunkers, debunkers, bikers, hikers, criers, liars, hair dyers, pied pipers, psychics, people of Area 51, people of Walmart, people in the witness protection program, planet-to-planet salesmen and – least of all – mimes.

6.  You won’t have to revise those sayings which you memorized to remember the order of the planets: Man Very Early Makes Jars Stand Up Nearly Perpendicular or My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets.

7.  It’s a good place to park your in-laws. By the time they come back for a return visit, you’ll be dead.

8.  The use of dwarf planet is demeaning and degrading. The preferred term is volumetrically challenged.

9.  Restoration of Pluto to full planet status will increase the likelihood of the removal of the anal probing station placed there by aliens shortly after Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet.  The station will return where it rightfully belongs – Uranus.

10.  Hundreds of organizations – from the U.S. Congress and the United Nations to the Triskaidekaphobia Illuminatus Society and the Astrology Club – can take credit for the rightful restoration of Pluto without costing any of them a dime.  It’s a win-win.

Once again, I ask you to join me in the effort to restore Pluto to planethood!

Plutoredux3