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Space Science

Possible Clue On Saturn's Hexagon? 70

Posted by kdawson
from the spinning-buckets dept.
permaculture sends us to nature.com for a description of new (and old) research that might possibly shed some light on the origin of the hexagon around Saturn's north pole. Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark have spun buckets of water, in much the same way Isaac Newton did, and photographed geometrical whirlpools developing. As the buckets are spun up, central holes develop that are first elliptical, then triangular, then square, pentagonal, and hexagonal. A UT Austin researcher is quoted as saying it's unlikely this process is behind the Saturn mystery.
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Possible Clue On Saturn's Hexagon?

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  • by Palmyst (1065142) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @12:47PM (#18886819)
    Slam dunk. Don't even try to refute it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mattintosh (758112)
      Intelligent Design has its merits, but this doesn't even fall into the same category. This is more of an implementation detail. And while the design might be intelligent, the ongoing implementation is surely governed by a ruleset long-since finalized.

      That's the one fact that most ID-ists and Evolutionists both miss, and it applies in nearly every argument they have. The problem is, it forces them both to STFU if they accept that fact, and when you have an agenda to push, STFU-ing is the last thing you want
      • by Johnny5000 (451029) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:47PM (#18888839) Homepage Journal
        Intelligent Design has its merits

        No, actually.. it really doesn't.
        Not scientific merits, anyway.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        Can you explain why ongoing implementation following a fixed ruleset makes evolutionists STFU? Evolution would be such a ruleset, wouldn't it?

        The usual ID proponent isn't actually arguing for intelligent design, they're arguing for intelligent-design-and-subsequent-stagnation. It's just the old universe is static vs. universe is changing argument again.
        • by Skreems (598317)

          Can you explain why ongoing implementation following a fixed ruleset makes evolutionists STFU? Evolution would be such a ruleset, wouldn't it?
          No. Intelligent Design specifically claims that random chance, even guided by a logical ruleset such as evolution, is not sufficient to produce the complexity found in low-level structural pieces of biological systems.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)
            Good point. But that doesn't explain what makes evolutionists STFU.
            • by Skreems (598317)
              Either they're assuming that the person making such a foolish argument is aware that it's foolish, or else they've concluded that they don't even understand the theory they're supporting (ID), and don't want to waste their time with them. Either way, it's the person raising the question who has failed, not the one they're confronting.
          • by fractoid (1076465)
            But it's sufficient to produce the complexity found in high-level structural pieces? It seems to me that ID proponents don't quite grasp the *scale* of the Earth, let alone the universe. Even if the probability of self-replicating molecules occurring by random chance in Earth's oceans at some point within a period of 4 billion years is infinitesimal (and given the size of earth, and the sheer mind-boggling length of time available, it's larger than you'd think) there are enough worlds in the universe that i
          • by maraist (68387) *
            Not being terribly savy with ID (I don't like butt sex either), but of course ID is self contradictory.. It merely replaces the 'randomness' of synthesis with the randomness of the whim of a pre-existing synthetic. How can someone/thing evoke free will to 'Design' without randomness? How random would it be that they create a contradictory historical dialog, utilize separation of scholars from the flock, allow people to learn contradictory things such as Jews are the chosen people, yet Germans will be amon
        • Usually people notice the difference between "design" and "implementation" and realize that ID is design (duh) and evolution is implementation, thus the whole argument is moot and they STFU.

          At least one would hope so, since everyone that doesn't participate in the pissing contest is really sick of hearing about it.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)
            I don't see that putting new labels on the two sides would cause either to stop arguing, but maybe. It's a good way of explaining it to non-passionately involved observers though.
      • ntelligent Design has its merits,

        Hold on, let me think... nope, can't think of any.
      • by asninn (1071320)

        That's the one fact that most ID-ists and Evolutionists both miss, and it applies in nearly every argument they have. The problem is, it forces them both to STFU if they accept that fact, and when you have an agenda to push, STFU-ing is the last thing you want to do.

        I fail to see how would force any actual scientist[1] to STFU, to be honest. If the "rules" were long since finalised, then it would still make sense to explore what the rules actually are, and there'd be no a priori reason at all why somet

    • by esobofh (138133)
      That's ten time more funny if you read it in the voice of Stephen Colbert.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2007 @12:50PM (#18886861)
    The gods are slowly starting to build a Settlers of Catan [wikipedia.org] board. Expect to see prices of wool & brick skyrocket here on earth.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @12:53PM (#18886909) Homepage Journal
    Black monolith.

    cue Ligeti's "Atmospheres"...
  • First time around... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @12:59PM (#18887009) Homepage Journal
    This was brought to light [slashdot.org] the first time around.

    Dan East
  • Slow news day... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Floritard (1058660) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#18887075)
    The whirlpools theory was actually linked to in the comments for the original article on slashdot about a month ago. I guess one way to get new stories is to harvest from the comments on old stories.
  • I've got it (Score:5, Funny)

    by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:14PM (#18887231)
    That's where the bees have gone. They've flown to Saturn and are constructing a gigantic honeycomb.
  • Two Minor Things (Score:3, Interesting)

    by user24 (854467) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:20PM (#18887329) Homepage
    firstly, I think this is the first time I've seen a slashdot article refute itself in the summary " Possible Clue On Saturn's Hexagon? ... A UT Austin researcher is quoted as saying it's unlikely this process is behind the Saturn mystery".

    secondly, are we even sure there is a hexagon? The face on mars was just a freak of low-resolution photography, couldn't the same sort of human error be responsible here?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by poopdeville (841677)
      The face on mars was just a freak of low-resolution photography, couldn't the same sort of human error be responsible here?

      No. The hexagon is huge. See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimed ia/pia09185.html [nasa.gov]
    • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:11PM (#18888199) Homepage Journal
      The face on Mars was really more a trick of the shadows, exacerbated by the low resolution photography. This is on the relatively smooth surface of Saturn, without shadows. This is also a rather simple shape, unlike a face, which we have special circuitry in our brains to recognize (like the face of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich.)

      We have much higher resolution pictures of this phenomenon relative to its scale. It could be a lot of things, including mere coincidence, though it seems more likely to be real. Unlike a face, which would have required a civilization (or wild coincidence) to create, there's reason to believe that there is a physical mechanism. It just may or may not be the one suggested in the article (though I'm willing to bet it's at least distantly related).
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:44PM (#18887755) Journal
    Wow, he's almost as brilliant as the dozen or more people that posted that exact same reference in http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/2 7/203205 [slashdot.org] THIS story.

    Note to /. editors: perhaps you should read your stories and their comments?
  • The whole hexagon thing was a dead give away.

    Diamonds a big as a cadillac!

    Arthur C. Clarke was a Genius to have predicted this!
  • Benard cells? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uab21 (951482) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:32PM (#18888545)
    The Saturn thing Looks like a Benard cell... although they are normally seen in thin layers, not 100km deep regions - I guess 'thin' could be subjective - don't know how far across that feature is. A high thermal diffusivity or kinematic viscosity would compensate for that (look up Rayleigh number for why).

    Benard cells form in a horizontal layer of fluid with warmer fluid below cooler fluid. The instability can be seen in different shapes dependent on the wave number of the most excited mode. The hexagonal cell solution was found by Christopherson (1940) 'Note on the Vibration of Membranes' - Quarterly J of Mathematics 11, 63-5, but many others exist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by treeves (963993)
      I mentioned that the first time this story came up on /. but thinking about it more later, Benard cells form in non-rotating fluids. Wouldn't the rotation interfere with the Benard cell formation process?
      • by uab21 (951482)

        Wouldn't the rotation interfere with the Benard cell formation process?

        Yes. The classical derivation for Bernard cells assumes a rigid/rigid or rigid/free boundary condition. I was just assuming that there could be some interaction between the rotational period and wavenumber / horizontal wavelength (which could also explain the lack of additional cells mentioned by Goway in another reply - the cells are collapsed onto each other by the rotation. Is this truly possible? Dunno - haven't even done the

    • Re:Benard cells? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Goaway (82658) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:56PM (#18890039) Homepage
      Bernard cells are Bernard cells. They don't appear on their own, and their shape is caused by the fact that there are many of them.
  • by arazor (55656)
    But is it a raging clue?
  • Was the clue the giant wrench floating nearby?
  • Maybe Saturn is the giant machine that controls the universe. Keep an eye out for Nathan Brazil...
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:50PM (#18889945) Journal
    The real reason for the hexagon: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070408 [userfriendly.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Of course Saturn has a hexagon. Saturn being the sixth planet from the sun, and a hexagon having six sides, it's only natural.
  • Perhaps the Lamberj have finally purchased advertising space on Saturn for their ergone tablets. After all, the Mizzaretts only bought display space on Jupiter, and didn't set up an option on the other planets.
  • TFA notes that the hole in the bucket is triangular at low speeds, 4-sided as it goes faster, etc. I've noticed the same thing when using a drill bit on wood. ( This only applies to the flat 'spade' type bits, and only if you keep running the drill long after you have drilled the hole. )
    When the bit starts to bounce around, and the hole starts to get larger, at low speeds - about 1000 rpm - the hole becomes triangular. At higher speeds, it becomes 4-sided. I've not been able to get 5-sided holes. You c

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