Sunday, 1 May 2005

2004, A Space Odyssey

Thanks to reader Shaun, here's an interesting site about Saturn's enigmatic moon, Iapetus.

It's also about how the human mind works. We constantly seek to find patterns in the world, and when confronted with something which doesn't conform to our expectations, we may see patterns that aren't really there.


As you can see, there's something there that doesn't add up. The "seam" along the equator. The picture isn't a fake, either, it came from the Cassini probe on 31 December 2004.
The most unique, and perhaps most remarkable feature discovered on Iapetus in Cassini images is a topographic ridge that coincides almost exactly with the geographic equator. The ridge is conspicuous in the picture as an approximately 20-kilometer wide (12 miles) band that extends from the western (left) side of the disc almost to the day/night boundary on the right. On the left horizon, the peak of the ridge reaches at least 13 kilometers (8 miles) above the surrounding terrain. Along the roughly 1,300 kilometer (800 mile) length over which it can be traced in this picture, it remains almost exactly parallel to the equator within a couple of degrees. The physical origin of the ridge has yet to be explained.
Curiouser and Curiouser. As for that huge crater slap-bang in the middle of the picture, just above the centre, it looks rather more hexagonal than circular.

From these pieces of hard evidence, and rather a lot more that are distinctly "iffy", Richar Hoagland, the author of the "interesting site" has managed to construct a whole history of the solar system, involving a doomed civilisation on Mars, and an artificial moon.
Some, on reading, have become intrigued. Others are repelled. And some, typified by this truly wondrous comment on "Coast to Coast AM" a few nights ago – "This time Hoagland has really walked off the cliff!" – are simply, as the phrase goes, "out to lunch."
Count me in with the luncheoners. I still think the "seam" is unexplained, and I certainly can't think of any conventional explanation more plausible than Hoagland's wild hypothesis. I'd bet there is one though. I also think that it's definitely worthwhile having a second, closer look, as until we get more data, we really can't say anything much apart from "WOW! Something REALLY Inexplicable!", which is the one thing guaranteed to get a Scientist really excited. It's one of Ma Nature's Mother Lodes, chock-full of scientific goodness that may just cause us to revise a lot of what we think we know.

I recommend you go view Richard Hoagland's site. It's easy to sort out the speculation from the evidence, and he has done a very sound job of collating the facts. I may disagree with the interpretation, and sometimes he sees patterns that I don't, but it's still worth a look. Personally, I see his hypothesis as being similar to Saint Malachy's Prophecy of the Popes. Seeing patterns that aren't really there.

Death Star Iapetus



inrepose said...

It does look rather like a resin two part model kit.

StinKerr said...

I was thinking more of a toilet tank float. I wonder if it's hollow.

Seriously though, I see the nearly hexagonal crater and note that more of the craters are not very circular.

Peter Nielsen said...

Iapetus' equatorial ridge is explained in my ebook at
in Volume 2, in the middle of the Homepage Introduction also.