Wednesday, October 07, 2009
New Bling For Saturn! (Galileo's Revenge)
When Galileo told the Pope
“Here, look into my telescope—
You’ll see much beauty there, I hope.”
His Holiness, the Pope, said “Nope.”
“Now kiss my ring, instead, and swear
That nothing of the sort is there—
I know you think it is not fair,
But I’m the Pope, as you’re aware.”
The Pope’s command was quite absurd,
But Galileo gave his word,
(Though some report him undeterred:
“E pur si muove” overheard.)
In hindsight now, with great delight,
We know, despite his Papal might,
That evidence would come to light
To prove the heretic was right.
With Urban’s ring already kissed,
The chance to get it right was missed,
Just one more error on the list—
But now, we find another twist!
What wonders will the cosmos bring?
Now Saturn sports another ring!
Much bigger than the Pope’s, this thing
Is interplanetary bling!
Four centuries have come to pass
Since Galileo ground his glass;
Far too much time for him, alas,
To tell the Pope to kiss his ass.
But now, the kids will learn in school:
That Saturn sports another jewel;
That telescopes are really cool;
One may be Pope, but still a fool.
I hope you will all, by now, have heard the very cool news: a new ring has been discovered around Saturn--a very different ring than any of the others; thicker, wider, in a different orientation than the other rings. The infrared imager on the Spitzer Space Telescope detected the faint image; the density of this ring equates to about 20 grains of material per cubic kilometer. You would not see it if you were standing in the middle of it; as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, "when you get there, there isn't any there there." Once again, science and technology stretch the limits of what humankind can perceive... when we are willing to look through the eyepiece.