|Agnes Marin, raped and murdered, age 13, credit AFP|
Pollyanna and Titan are joining YandA for a trip to the West Coast of the USA. You may get a Titan next week, but Pollyanna is sparing you until December 23. We will attend the Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco and then visit colleagues and friends in Los Angeles. We will be back for Hannuka.
CRAZY MOON IAPETUS
Iapetus is an oddball moon of Saturn.
|Two faced Iapetus NASA|
Iapetus has extreme topography and one of the most ancient surfaces in the solar system. It also has a tall mountain range running exactly around its equator.
|Iapetus ridge NASA|
Orbital radius: 3,561,000 kilometers - 59.1 Saturn radii - far outside Saturn's ring system
Orbital period: 79.33 days - 5 times Titan's
Discovery: 1671 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Iapetus [pronounced eye-APP-eh-tuss; adjective form: Iapetian] has been called the yin and yang of the Saturn moons because its leading hemisphere has a reflectivity (or albedo) as dark as coal (albedo 0.03-0.05 with a slight reddish tinge) and its trailing hemisphere is much brighter at 0.5-0.6. Giovanni Cassini observed the dark-light difference when he discovered Iapetus in 1671. He noted that he could only see Iapetus on the west side of Saturn. He correctly concluded that Iapetus had one side much darker than the other side, and that Iapetus was tidally locked with Saturn. Since Cassini's time, the spacecraft named for him has taken much better views of Iapetus including an encounter on September 10, 2007 a few samples of which are shown above.
In mythology Iapetus was the father of Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, and Atlas by Clymene. He was regarded by the ancient Greeks as the father of the human race.
This week Anne Mccaffrey the famous fantasy and science fiction author died at age 85.
Lynn Margulis whose ideas turned evolution theory on its head, died this week at age 73. Her work on evolution at the microorganism level challenged conventional wisdom in the 1960's and was initially rejected. She stood by her guns and her ideas of symbiotic evolution have now become the standard theory.
Paul Hosefos/The New York Times
GOOD NEWS from Oregon--the governor of Oregon has announced that he will not permit any executions to take place in the state as long as he holds the position.
welcome the decision by the Governor and hope that it will eventually lead to abolition.
SPEEDING TICKET FOR NEUTRINOS
You may recall that a while back we reported on a preprint by Cohen and Glashow in which they pointed out that if the Gran Sasso neutrinos had exceeded the speed of light they would have emitted Cherenkov radiation. This is radiation emitted when the passage of photons through a medium is impeded and falls below the speed of light in vacuum. In such a case, particles can move through the medium faster than the local light speed. If that happens, then the particles emit a characteristic radiation and lose energy. The ICARUS group at Gran Sasso reports that its search for Cherenkov emission yielded no positive findings.
A new rover named Curiosity is on its way to Mars where its predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity have been gathering in data for years.
|Meet Curiosity who is off on a long journey|
There are several mysteries floating around in physics such as retrocausality, entanglement and other weird things. One of the most challenging has been the question of why the universe is here at all. Matter and antimatter mutually annihilate and since at the time of the Big Bang more or less equal amounts of matter and antimatter came into being, not much if anything should have been left. It now appears, albeit not at a compellingly conclusive level yet, that the Large Hadron Collider beauty group may have found an answer to this question. If so, we may have to revise the Standard Model of physics and go in new directions. Indeed, that was the reason for building this very expensive machine. Maybe supersymmetry, who knows what the future holds for physics? Meet an LHC group:
|The LHCb team stands in front of their experiment, the LHCb detecor, at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.|
CREDIT: CERN/Maximilien Brice, Rachel Barbier
LUNAR MAGNETISM Our Moon has long been considered an inert body, but it had a wild past and maintained a magnetic field for 400 million years, much longer than might have been expected. Now there are interesting theories coming to explain the phenomenon, mainly by the effects of asteroid bombardment that shook things up in the interior and possibly the influence of the Earth and its gravitational field. The subject is interesting in itself and we coauthored a paper on the detection of vestiges of fossil magnetism by an orbiting spacecraft, long ago, certainly before the authors of the new paper were born. The popular report is free, but you might require library access for the new Nature paper and the old Science paper..
BOOK REVIEW This week Pollyanna calls your attention to a review in the NYTimes (Published: October 21, 2011) of Jose Saramago's last novel Cain (Translated by Margaret Jull Costa, 159 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $24.) by Robert Pinsky. Some people like Saramago more than others. You might like to give him a try.
FUND RAISING APPEAL We are sure that many of you make use of Wikipedia. The folks there are putting out a call for some financial support from the user community. Please consider donating to support this most useful Web utility.
Click to donate online.
We wind up with a comment on Black Friday from Andy Borowitz which would be funny if it were not so tragic. People go out of their minds in shopping and consumer madness. Of course, we could not let you off without a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Gene Weingarten and his interaction with the canine world