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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 Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @12:53PM (#18886909) Homepage Journal
    Black monolith.

    cue Ligeti's "Atmospheres"...
  • 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?
  • by Mattintosh (758112) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:01PM (#18888043)
    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 to do.

    Can't we all just STFU along?

    (BTW, your joke is not lost on me. I find it humorous as a dig on ID-ists even though I myself believe in a Creator.)
  • 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).
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:Benard cells? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by treeves (963993) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:24PM (#18889499) Homepage Journal
    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 Rei (128717) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:33PM (#18889665) Homepage
    Well... they may not be directly related, but it is a demonstration of the fact that geometric shapes with relatively straight sides can be formed in a moving fluid. Even if the mechanism is different, it's a nice demonstration that the concept isn't far fetched.
  • by ColdGrits (204506) on Friday April 27, 2007 @04:20AM (#18897453)
    Indeed, although just the final track "Echoes" which does work exceedingly well when started as "Beyond The infinite" starts when he goes to investigate the black monolith at Jupiter.

    HOWEVER, did you know that although the film has the monolith at Jupiter (due to sfx limitations at the time), the original storyline and the novel both have the monolith at SATURN.

    See, it all falls into place now...

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