The Old Man

Given anonymous’ interesting suggestion to use honeycombs to study the rings of Saturn, I couldn’t resist posting this false colour NASA/JPL/SSI Cassini image, stolen from Universe Today. This view is from above the hot North pole (in shadow) where we recently saw a hexagon structure.

8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Anonymous said,

    Thanks Kea for keeping your web site at least to some extent scientific. The rings on all 4 large planets are interspesed with sattelites. For all planets rings are located in the plane coinciding with equatorial plane of the respective planet. The most interesting (for me) is that after rings still there are plenty of satellites located at these equatorial orbits. Surely, there are satellites in orbits other than equatorial. For them there is some order on its own, e.g. all of them are located at the orbits more distant than those which live in the equatorial plane. I was thinking about finding some analytical result determining how many sattelites are allowed at the equatorial plane. In the case of Solar System there are 8 planets +meteorite belt (counted as planet). These are also located at the equatorial (for Sun) plane. Is this the maximum number allowable under circumstances(e.g. given the solar mass, etc.)? According to my preliminary calculations this is indeed the case… Why heavy planets are having rings while our Sun is without rings?! How knowledge of honeycombs can help in this? ! šŸ™‚

  2. 2

    a quantum diaries survivor said,


    keep thinking. We will be happy to read your not-any-more-preliminary calculations, once you have them. Please promise us that if they rule out the solar system you’ll warn us in advance.

    Kea, great picture… So sad we will never get to see these views with our own eyes. Unless, of course, Ray Kurzweil is right, and we live long enough.


  3. 3

    Doug said,

    Hi anonymous,

    I was under the impression that the ā€œmeteorite beltā€ which you refer to as a planet is more like a ring. Many have downgraded the larger Pluto to a dwarf planet.

    To my knowledge the shapes of the Kuiper Belt [disk-shaped] and Oort Cloud [?] have not been completely defined.

    Then there may also be detectable rings [or other curves] in the invisible heliosphere [bubble].

    The various geometric shapes may be mathematically explained as superellipses

    See also News @ Nature ā€˜Geometric whirlpools revealedā€™.

  4. 4

    L. Riofrio said,

    Beautiful picture! The Rings are endlessly fascinating.

  5. 5

    Anonymous said,

    To Survivor. I appreciate your wit as well as your wisdom. People like you normally go to politics and some even become presidents. I can imagine how science would thrive under your presidency…
    To Doug. I appreciate your comments very much, especially about rings in the heliosphere and about superellipses. The last one admits at once a nice mathematical treatment which (unfortunately) I cannot reveal now but surely will unveil in my paper. I hope, we shall be in touch in person some of these days.

  6. 6

    Kea said,

    Is this the maximum number allowable under circumstances (e.g. given the solar mass, etc.)? According to my preliminary calculations this is indeed the case…

    Fantastic, anonymous!! I can’t wait for this paper you talk about to appear on the arxiv. Give us a link when it is ready. Stupidly, I was counting the planets as 8 myself, forgetting the asteroid belt. Clearly, I have to think a lot more about these things before I get anywhere…

    Good to hear from you, Tommaso. We may not see Saturn (in blue) ourselves, but I can always hope that my little nephews, or their children, or their clone-droids, will see it.

  7. 7

    Anonymous said,

    Thanks again Kea. Originally, I was planning to do so in about 2 weeks time (I was working on it for about half a year) but, as it is always the case, some new features came to my attention (other than on blogs). Once you get something in your hands you want in to be displayed with maximum care. This takes some time. Whatever happens, the paper is going to be on display no later than 1st of September (may be much sooner…). This is my self imposed target deadline. Surely, I am going to let you know (that is I am going to mention this on your web site)

  8. 8

    a quantum diaries survivor said,


    I am way too lazy to ever undertake a political career. Don’t get me wrong, my comment was lighthearted and I am always happy to see people asking themselves questions others have not bothered to ask.


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