Atom Wave: March 2007

Atom Wave

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hex Storm (Featuring Saturn)

Headed in the bus on my way to Brooklyn Park one night, I came across a news story about a hexagonal storm on Saturn. Picking at my brain, the many possibilities.
Could it be true?
A elaborate hoax?
With Photoshop, why could it not?
I would certainly hate those people with a passion for that gag!
Not tonight, at least it doesn’t need to be. Plenty of evidence exists to show it’s no joke.
This storm was first shot two decades by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes at the planet’s north pole. Recently it was captured again by the Cassini probe using its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.
The hexagon is very reminiscent of Earth’s polar vortex, with winds orbiting about in circles: but considerably larger. The hexagon is nearly 25,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) across. That is nearly abundant space to fit four Earth’s inside, assuming that someone would want to. The system is also considered to sink about 60 miles or 100 kilometers below the cloud tops from infrared observations.
One promising theory for the emergence of this system is that it is a stationary Rossby Wave. In 1990 Allison, M, R.F. Beeble, and D.A Godfrey published an article stating that it could be a wave embedded in a sharply peaked eastward jet at 100 meters per second that is being perturbed by at least one anticylonic oval vortex to the south. Be aware that this theory isn’t proven, and competing theories do exist.
It is also disturbingly possible that this photo could be an optical trick. It wouldn’t be the first time and probably not the last. Remember the “face on Mars” image taken by the Viking 1 that was later attributed to poor resolution, or the famous “Man on the Moon”. The search for patterns is both simultaneously human’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. In the end the final truth has yet to be written.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Undisputed Awesome Cosmic String

My blogs are normally such a pleasure for you to treasure, with my many rhetorical arguments orbiting about such legendary topics as nuclear war or superstring theory. Just as you have come to expect but would be wrong, I won’t be conspiring to comment on any controversial topic tonight.
Remember Black Holes; they are undisputed champions of awesome. Considering that an object can become so massive and dense that for another object to escape from it requires a velocity greater than light. Pretty cool given that the science shows that they almost certainly exist.
Well enough about that, scientists have since than imagined far more mysterious objects than Black Holes. Remember Cosmic Strings, they have long occurred in science fiction since at least Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are a legitimate hypothesis in science and evidence suggests that the Hubble Telescope might have already observed them.
The basic premise of a Cosmic String is that space-time contains defects much like the defects in a crystal. At the intersections of the two regions, a phase change occurs in space-time akin to the phase changes of matter. The boundary would manifest as a super dense boundary no thicker than a proton (~1.5*10^-15 Meters). Such a filament would produce an intense localized gravitational field analogous to a star or planet. It would also vibrate at the speed of light and emit vast sums of gravitational radiation. If that doesn’t frighten you, than I shouldn’t tell you that Cosmic Strings might be out there in the universe right now conspiring to influence the evolution of galaxy clusters.
Astronomers are already on the tail of Cosmic Strings and might have already detected one. Observations of the double galaxy Capodimonte-Sternberg lens candidate suggest that it might be the double image of one galaxy, but that remains dubious by much of the Astronomy community.
Count your blessings, and the other piece of evidence known as Q0957+561,which is a twin Quasar discovered in 1979 and a consequence of a gravitational lens. Between September 1994 and July 1995, astronomers observed that the two images instantly changed in brightness on four individual occasions. One possibility is that it was a Cosmic String racing between the Earth and the Quasar at high speed and a period of about 100 days.
The theory of the Cosmic String isn’t dead today, nor is it just the imagination of Science Fiction. It is a conceivable and possible cosmic exotic.

Photo Courtesy of Cambridge Cosmology. The photo depicts a possible arrangement of strings in the matter era of the universe today.