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Possible Clue On Saturn's Hexagon?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the spinning-buckets dept.

Space 70

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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Intelligent Design (4, Funny)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18886819)

Slam dunk. Don't even try to refute it.

Re:Intelligent Design (-1, Flamebait)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18886865)

Well, while the article seems to have a clue what they're talking about, you certainly don't.

Intelligent design really is a bunch of lazy researchers throwing their hands up in the air and saying "It's too complicated, I dont want to figure it out, must be God."

Re:Intelligent Design (4, Interesting)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887301)

Well, while the article seems to have a clue what they're talking about, you certainly don't. Intelligent design really is a bunch of lazy researchers...

Your argument a) misses the joke, and b) holds water less than the parent. Clues must be in short supply, as you indicated.

Re:Intelligent Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18897085)

Here's a clue. It's really a round shape on Saturn, but a hexagon is what you'd get if you stuck three fingers from each hand inside the hole and pulled it apart.
 

Re:Intelligent Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18887507)

I think your sarcasm meter might need to be rebooted.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

geekzilla65 (709219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18897111)

That's okay, I am sure God is laughing at your post. Or at least you should hope so. :)

Re:Intelligent Design (2, Insightful)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Intelligent Design (3, Insightful)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888839)

Intelligent Design has its merits

No, actually.. it really doesn't.
Not scientific merits, anyway.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888913)

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.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18890767)

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.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18891143)

Good point. But that doesn't explain what makes evolutionists STFU.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906205)

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.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18894623)

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 it's pretty much certain to happen *somewhere*. This just happens to be that somewhere.

Once you have self-replicating molecules, it's simply a matter of time and cosmic radiation. :P

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

maraist (68387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18900193)

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 among the 144,000 'tribesmen' that are raptured one day while driving in a car, or rather sticking a fork in the ground to cleanse it from touching both meat and dairy is out, but butt-sex is still punishable by death.

The randomness by which the culture of those that promote ID is as rare to have generate as the tornado that produced the 747.

But wait.. There was a 'plan' you say.. That's what makes it different? There was the will of God? There was some order in the chaos.. It was that which separated the holy and sacrad from the darkness? But... doesn't.. this.. sound.. like... the natural organization of atoms? Of the strong,weak,electro,gravitation forces promoting organization at ever higher scales.. That have a natural direction of synthesizing things that synthesize things that synthesize things, ad-infinitum. That order is intrinsic to the universe. That it is almost impossible to have a universe that does not naturally try to order itself, independent of free-will. Independent of a designer (save the undemonstrable initiator of the laws and motions - which subsequently and necessarily must be absent from all creation thereafter). And at least maintaining independence from the concerns with one out of thousands of tribes which each have their own center-of-the-universe views of nature.

But of course, the very same natural organization perfectly explains why these self-centric cultures became the way they did.. What culture could survive that said, 'nope, we're nothing.. Our neighbors are probably stronger than us.. smarter than us.. They owned their land before us, so we should just wander the resource-less desert'.. No, of course, those conquering Jews in the time of Mosus. The conqueroing Muslims. Those conquoring Christians, that imposed their world-view are what survived and ultimately evolved into self-contradicting cultural rule-sets.. The contradictions are disgused simply by not stating both elements of the equation at the same time.. People memorize the passages separately. Piece-wise, they make sense... But it is never required to be obsorbed as a single logical equation. And thus the masses can believe with almost no internal strife. 'God the father, son and holy ghost'. A self contradiction that we repeat to our children millions of times.. It just becomes fact - they internalize it the same way they internalize magnets. It's pervasive, so of course it's true.

Now, I challenge ID to as susinctly and intuitively define the anomolies of the universe as science can do to it.

The only thing ID can win the hearts and minds over that science cant.. Is the simplicity to comprehend that their dad once upon a time had answers that they didn't understand.. The dad would reveal things to them as it was necessary.. That dad would protect them in times of crisis.. That dad was there before you, and he has a sence of permanence.

This is such an appealing thing, that we naturally long for it when we're older and dad is no longer there to fullfill that role. We aren't looking for exact answers, we're looking for the knowledge that an answer does exist... So ID doesn't say what happened before the big-bang.. It says 'dad knows what happened, and he'll reveal it to us at the appropriate time'. Wow.. simplicity.. Something virtually anyone could understand.... But.. the life of a lemming is equally simplistic and easy to follow... Not terribly useful though.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18891489)

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.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18891935)

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.

and that would be?? (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18897087)

ntelligent Design has its merits,

Hold on, let me think... nope, can't think of any.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

asninn (1071320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18898125)

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 something as scientifically unsound, ungrounded in reality and outright whacky as creationism would suddenly be in the same league as accepted scientific theories of evolution.

Not that I'm even sure that it makes sense to talk about rules that could be fixed or finalised, of course - in fact, I fail to see why any real rules would exist that are more than just emergent behaviour of a complex dynamic system. But maybe that's just me.

1. I'm not using the word "evolutionist" on purpose, since it implies that someone "believes" in evolution the same way people believe in gods. In reality, scientists (as well as laypeople who know a bit about science) will see evolution as a theory that works exceptionally well at explaining past events and making useful predictions that match reality, but that doesn't mean that it won't be abandoned if something better comes along, just like Newtonian mechanics are not used anymore except for as an approximation at scales where the error is negligible. Of course, the key here is that evolution as a concept is too useful to be entirely abandoned, so any future theories will most likely be an evolution of evolution (no pun intended!); and in that sense, I guess you say that people believe in evolution, but it's not a fanatical belief. In other words, if new facts emerge, then scientists will adapt their theories instead of irrationally clinging to their beliefs like creationists etc. do. That's why I don't say "evolutionists".

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

esobofh (138133) | more than 7 years ago | (#18901925)

That's ten time more funny if you read it in the voice of Stephen Colbert.

Settlers of Catan (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Settlers of Catan (5, Funny)

Drey (1420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887109)

Obligatory Settler's Joke: "I have wood for sheep."

Re:Settlers of Catan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18892051)

I keep thinking it will get old someday, but it never does...

'Does anyone have wood?'
'Not for you , Steve'

Re:Settlers of Catan (1)

Wolfger (96957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903371)

I want to go sailing. Bring me a sheep on a stick!

Re:Settlers of Catan (1)

fructose (948996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887723)

Good thing I have a wheat port.

Re:Settlers of Catan (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888833)

I guess you missed it when they released Starfarers of Catan...(Excellent game, btw).

Short Explaination? (2, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18886909)

Black monolith.

cue Ligeti's "Atmospheres"...

Re:Short Explaination? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18887543)

Pink Floyd's 'Meddle' goes well with the end of 2001: A Space Oddyssey as well :) (Jupiter and Beyond, I think is the chapter it starts with)

Re:Short Explaination? (2, Insightful)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

Long Explanation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18889011)

Bllllllllaaaaaaaaaacccccccckkkkkk mmmmooooooonnnnnooooooolllllliiiiiiiitttthhhhh.

cue a 45 of Ligeti's "Atmospheres" played at 33-1/3

First time around... (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887009)

This was brought to light [slashdot.org] the first time around.

Dan East

Re:First time around... (1)

Bondolon (1000444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887513)

Yeah, and both times it was pretty clearly stated that the scientist types didn't think the phenomena were really related. I'm confused as to why this has been reposted.

Re:First time around... (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889665)

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.

Re:First time around... (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887719)

and the nature article is from may 2006.

Giant Cock Ring (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887053)

for my Heaxgoknob

Slow news day... (3, Informative)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Chaos theory (0)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887081)

You are all looking for something that is just random, why do clouds look like butterflys or people or what ever? It's just the same thing if some one says "Hey that looks like a pattern," and then they next guys replies "Yea, I see it too." Your all looking for some random occourence, I'm not saying there isn't some very hard to figure out scientific principle but in the end its more likely a random occourence, then some master plan of god or something else.

Re:Chaos theory (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887127)

Congratulations on missing the entire fucking point. When we find the mechanism behind one of these "random occurrences" we learn more about the way the universe works and it enables us to make predictions. This is called science. It's useful, as you would not have that computer in front of you with which you can spout off about things you don't understand without the scientific method.

Re:Chaos theory (5, Informative)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887255)

Not to mention there is a difference between "Hey, that cloud over there looks kinda like a butterfly if I squint and turn it sideways!" and "Hey! That enormous section of the north pole of an entire planet looks remarkably like a regular hexagon!" One is basically a rorschach (sp) test. The other is a nifty example of geometry cropping up in nature on a gigantic scale, and for an extended period of time. I don't know how long its been there, but according to the article it has been stable for at least 26 years. In addition, understanding how it works would help them understand more about what goes on underneath Saturn's surface.

Re:Chaos theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18887269)

Did you even read the article? This hexagon has been observed before, and is long-standing. Therefore, we can't simply dismiss it as a case of overzealous pattern-finding in the human brain.

Re:Chaos theory (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18890677)

while I won't say that a regular* geometrical shape can't happen in a circumpolar region of a planet for 26 years (or AFAwK twice in 26 years coincident with our two observations) randomly, it's right up there with Shakespeare written by monkeys. I'm going with that shape not being random, but rather due to some periodic/quantifiable/mathematical relationship between gravity, the angular momentum of the atmosphere, the viscosity of the atmosphere, the heat received by the sun, and something else. Finding out what ratios and such along with what that something else is would be a boon for humanity. Doubtful it's random.

-nB
*regular as in repeating, not as in ordinary

Re:Chaos theory (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18894717)

It is not uncommon to see a hexagon pattern in our upper atmosphere.The Current Northern Hemispheric 500 mb Plot at http://weather.unisys.com/upper_air/ua_nhem_500p.h tml [unisys.com] I noticed this several years ago and copied a few Hexagons.I think you are correct about the role gravity plays in this formation, Because this happens between the new and full moons .I havent noticed it lately because la nina twists this layer in all directions.Temp mixing plays a big part also.I can tell the position of the moon just by looking at that plot.Explaining why it is a hexagon may only be possible with the help of LSD .

Re:Chaos theory (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18893279)

You seriously need to recalibrate your sense of what is and isn't likely to appear at random.

I've got it (4, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887231)

That's where the bees have gone. They've flown to Saturn and are constructing a gigantic honeycomb.

Re:I've got it (4, Funny)

Emperor Zombie (1082033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887291)

Honeycomb's big, Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Re:I've got it (2, Funny)

K'Lyre (600056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888093)

It's not small. No, no no.

Re:I've got it (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887303)

Cool. I always wondered where the Honeycomb Hideout was.

Good news, everyone! (2, Funny)

swid27 (869237) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887459)

Once again, life imitates Futurama. [wikipedia.org]

Two Minor Things (2, Interesting)

user24 (854467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887329)

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:Two Minor Things (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888199)

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).

Re:Two Minor Things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18888969)

The first thing I thought when I saw the picture was: the hexagon looked like the type of thing that might happen if six photographs, from different sides of the planet, were taken from directly in line with the equator. Then these photos were projected/texture-mapped onto a 3D sphere in a computer(to allow for rotation of the view etc), with image artefacts appearing where the projection/mapping had most altered the original shape of the photos - which would be the areas furtherst away from the camera's central axis, ie the poles.

Dept of Redundancy dept. (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887755)

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?

Missing the obvious... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18887839)

Of all the planets in the solar system, Saturn has to "think different" in the shadow of big brother Jupiter. That's better than being a slacker like Uranus or Neptune.

Re:Missing the obvious... (1)

Mille Mots (865955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889401)

...That's better than being a slacker like Uranus or Neptune.

Hey, maybe Uranus is a slacker, but not mine!

Errr, wait...about that...

--
cat ~/.sig | lp -d/.

Where's the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18888103)

I went to nature.com and found nothing about this.

Its a giant carbon structure (1)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18888255)

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!

Crappy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18888527)

I thought this was going to be a new add-on for the Sega Saturn.

Benard cells? (2, Insightful)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Benard cells? (2, Insightful)

treeves (963993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889499)

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?

Re:Benard cells? (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#18890413)

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 back of the envelope numbers) Perhaps some interaction with the instabilities inherent in Taylor/Couette flow...It's really been too long since my last hydrodynamic stability course...

Re:Benard cells? (3, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18890039)

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.

Yes (1)

arazor (55656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889007)

But is it a raging clue?

haven't read article (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889599)

Was the clue the giant wrench floating nearby?

Well World? (1)

istvaan (66491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18889917)

Maybe Saturn is the giant machine that controls the universe. Keep an eye out for Nathan Brazil...

What's so mysterious about it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18890081)

Of course Saturn has a hexagon. Saturn being the sixth planet from the sun, and a hexagon having six sides, it's only natural.

Re:What's so mysterious about it? (4, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18893315)

And Earth has the Bermuda triangle. Hey! You're really onto something.

Re:What's so mysterious about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18898945)

And Venus must have.... nah. Better not go there.

Buy Jupiter! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18892003)

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.

Drill bits (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18892679)

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 can get a six-side hole by starting with a 3-sided hole and letting its side get about twice the width of the spade, then suddenly revving it up.

Why, you ask, have I learned such useless things? The wife is remodelling the house, room by room.
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