Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Earth Has Two Moons

By Martha Reed
It bothers me when scientists change the stories they tell, especially about things that I learned as a child. Things that I thought were pretty much fixed in stone get turned around without my knowledge and then I get corrected by a ten year old. I wasn’t happy when they messed with the traditional nine planets and dropped Pluto from the lineup or when they decided there never was an animal known as a brontosaurus. I used to collect the plastic dinosaurs that came in cereal boxes and Bronte was my favorite. Now I find out he was a fiction.

They did it to me again when I found out this week that Earth has two moons.

Cruithne is an asteroid about three miles wide, locked in Earth’s orbit in a 1:1 relationship. I'm no scientist but that sounds like a moon to me. Cruithne will spend another 5,000 years in its current orbit and then it just might move into a true orbit around Earth to become a second moon. That would be something to see.

You might be wondering where I find this odd type of trivia so I'll share my new secret passion. When not writing (or editing, lately) I've been catching episodes of QI or Quite Interesting from BBC TV on Youtube. Host Stephen Fry is a bit dry and pedantic but Alan Davies is hilarious. Watching him work to get Stephen’s goat is worth every lost minute of my writing time. Every once in awhile they drop a stunner on me like Cruithne and I have to go google it up.

Another funny thing about the show is that is shows how different British humor is from American. We’ve gotten away from silliness like the Three Stooges but the Brits are still hanging int there, loving nonsensical humor like Monte Python. Their point is it doesn't have to make sense. The rules of QI explain it better than I can: “Most of the questions asked are extremely obscure, making it unlikely that the correct answer will be given. To compensate, points are awarded not only for right answers but also for interesting ones, regardless of whether they are right or even relate to the original question. Conversely, points are deducted from a panelist who gives answers which are not only wrong but pathetically obvious.”

That sounds like pure Brit. You gotta love it. 



9 comments:

C.L. Phillips said...

Wow - and I just watched the Nova special with Neil Degrassie on Pluto and his story of how Pluto lost its status as a planet.

And now a new moon. Shades of Dune!

Ramona said...

Here's another interesting tidbit, somewhat related to the two moons. There's another BBC regular named Stephen Fry-only he is Stephen Frey--and he is decidedly not dry.

I agree with you, Martha. I hate when scientists change science. I mean, if President Kennedy had made his famous vow to put an American on the moon, and someone said, "Which one?" that would just have destroyed the moment. You know?

Joyce said...

As long as that asteroid more or less stays in orbit and doesn't decide it likes Earth so much it takes a plunge our way, I'm okay with having a second moon.

And I stubbornly refuse to believe that Pluto is not a planet. So there.

Jenna said...

No brontosaurus? When was that decided? I heard about the Pluto debacle and I'm with Joyce: I refuse to believe it. But the Cruithne thing is new to me. Very interesting. Must go to Google now...

Joyce said...

So, what exactly is Dino on the Flintstones if he's not a brontosaurus? You're messing with icons of my childhood here, you know.

Martha Reed said...

Maybe we should start a dino support project to put brontosaurus back on the map. Fred Flintstone is right! How do you say yabba-dabba-do if you're not sliding down the neck of a brontosaurus? Saying it while punching a time clock doesn't have the same feel to it!

Gina said...

I love it when scientific "facts" turn out to be delusions. It supports my world view: question everything!

Patg said...

YOU Guys!!!
Pluto was downgraded because there are other planetoids out in the Oort Cloud bigger that it. And it's moon Cheron is as big as it is!
An astroid circling Tera is an astroid circling Tera. If Mars can have 2 and Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus have 11 to 22, than we can have two too.
Was brontosaurus just renamed?
OHHHH, British humor. Well.
My word verifier is imatound. Well sometimes.
Patg

Patg said...

Sorry, but orbit the Earth! NOT!
http://www.orbitsimulator.com/gravity/articles/cruithne.html

Fun pictures, but I don't see it orbiting Earth. Seems more like Earth's ping pong ball, and the ball is doing its own kidney bean orbit. Sorta Dancing With Itself.
Patg