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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

M & M: Mercury & Mars: Erupting and Aligning

      Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system (sorry, Pluto), is the site for numerous pyroclastic or volcanic eruptions:



      Volcanos need volatiles (with their low boiling points) like water and carbon dioxide. (Remember: V's need V's.) Thus, this finding was a bit of a shock to some researchers who published research in late March of this year looking at the ages of craters on the planet:


MESSENGER VOLCANIC DATA FROM MERCURY


       These eruptions occurred from 3.0 to 1.5 billion years ago, relatively recently compared to the 4.5 billion year old planet. Investigators had thought Mercury was dry as a fossilized bone (I never liked the expression dry as a bone since living bone has all that smooth, relatively juicy marrow in the middle). Plus, it's a good excuse, IMHO, to post a photo of fossilized bone on this April Tuesday:








      The relatively large iron core of Mercury has also puzzled investigators. Some thought this large core may have been the result of an outer layer of Mercury being burned up so close to the Sun or blasted away by a meteorite hitting the planet. But, the presence of volatiles tends to negate these ideas. Back to the drawing board.

       And, it is back to the drawing board of the night sky this Tuesday evening to see the brilliant burnt orange Mars rising in the eastern sky at sunset:





  
      Mars will be in opposition (aligning) to the Earth in its orbit so will rise in the eastern sky at only 57 million miles away, move through that night drawing board and set in the western sky as our Sun rises tomorrow morning. Definitely worth a look with binoculars tonight!

       How to tie together fleet-footed Mercury which shares its name with the fast-moving element mercury (Hg) and Mars, named after the fiery god of War? A birthday party for the Sun: they had to planet of course. ;-)

      Here's hoping that pun got you right in your solar plexus (plexus being from the Latin for braid--see triple braid below) 





and that it will make you laugh to your non-iron core. 

     I created today's PEOTS as a bit of a haven of wonder at things happening elsewhere ;-) Oh, the third M of the braid to go with Mercury and Mars? I will leave that up to you creative, fellow bloggers. What do you suggest?

       Look up tonight! 

Non volatile-ly,

Word Woman (Scientific Steph)

P.S. And remember: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nothing (Oh, Pluto, we miss those Nine Pizzas!)      

     



33 comments:

  1. Two things: Glad you are reading PEOTS, sdb. ;-) But, you're so quiet over here. . .

    Forgot to include the reminder from hs chem that the symbol Hg for Mercury is from the Latinised Greek phrase: Hydrargyrum, from "hydr-" meaning watery or runny and "argyros" meaning silver.

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  2. So, why do volcanoes need volatiles? I thought you just needed magma, molten rock, and access to the surface? What do water or carbon dioxide have to do with it?

    That MESSENGER probe is one impressive little machine.

    BTW, this week's New Yorker has a nice article on the near-threatened Atlantic horseshoe crab.

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  3. Good question. Volcanoes need the volatiles for the explosive action (a la Mt. St. Helens) as seen on the surface of Mercury. The volatiles change from liquid to gas at the surface resulting in the explosion, creating all that ash. Otherwise, without volatiles, the magma just dribbles out the sides of a volcano like ropy pahoehoe. (I have a few vials of MSH ash--of differing sizes away from the blast site).

    Yeah, that MESSENGER probe is amazing.

    I will check out the horseshoe crab article too. Thanks for the scoop!

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    1. This is the trouble with a slow couple of hours at work: I end up surfing through Wikipedia, reading about hotspots, plates vs plumes, lava lamps and other diapirs. (Do astronauts on now-volcanic Mercury wear those when traveling to beat up their love rivals? Sounds more Venereal than Mercurial.)

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    2. Trouble?! I think it's a great way to spend some time, jan. Hope it was fun.

      Diapirs, ah yes, I think so. Luv it! ;-)

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  4. This is a fun piece on a true pie chart. The pie chart of bars and bar chart of pies clip is pretty funny too:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/08/300620654/this-pie-chart-is-delicious-and-statistically-sound?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=npr&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_content=03032014

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    1. Yeah, I know, they fudged a bit when they took out chocolate cream and pecan. Speaking of fudge/chocolate, did you see Mars last night?

      One of the Smith Clubs holds a "Macademia for Academia" fundraiser (since we were talking about nuts).

      No earthquakes anywhere except NZ in the past few days. 10 to 20 a day. Pretty fascinating. (Well, to me anyway ;-)).





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    2. What source are you using for your earthquake info? The USGS list of magnitude 2.5+ activity for the past 24 hours lists 43 quakes, all over the world except NZ!

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    3. Ha! I was using GeoNet Quake which I now realize only posts NZ quakes...It did seem very odd. They didn't show up on USGS as they ranged only up to 4.0 and the USGS only posts 4.5+ unless they are in the US. I am happy to be on the right seismic wavelength now.

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  5. I stepped outside about an hour ago and spotted something bright to the south, roughly 45 degrees above the horizon, which I convinced myself was orangish. There was something not quite so bright down and a bit to the left of it, and the moon was to the west at about the same altitude as the orangish thing.
    Do you think I saw Mars?

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    1. Try to ignore the misplaced modifiers and such.

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    2. Paul, I think so. It was quite bright the night before and that position fits for about midway-ish through the night.

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    3. Heavens Above is a great tool for identifying stuff in the night sky, including stars, planets and satellites. For your smart phone, the Star Walk app is amazing.

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    4. Thanks for these two tools, jan. (We won't be using them tonight though as the forecast calls for 1/2 foot of snow.) The smart phone one would be especially useful as a guide outside.

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  6. Steph,

    Third M candidate (not to be confused with 3M, Minnesota Mining Manufacturing):
    M = Mercury = bygone FoMoCo brand of AUTOMOBILE (1938-2011 R.I.P.) launched by Edsel Ford (Edsel Car: 1958-1960 R.I.P.)
    M = Mars = word in the title and title song of David Bowie’s breakthrough album, “Ziggy Stardust and the SPIDERS from Mars”
    M = Mazda = AUTOMOBILE with a SPIDER issue.

    Thus Mazda, melding, as it does, AUTOMOBILE and SPIDER, is the middle braid in the Mercury-Mazda-Mars solar-system plexus! In recognition of this, we ought to rename Venus “Maz” and Earth “Da.”

    In my youth, the M&M Boys were New York Yankees mickey Mantle and roger Maris. Both were fleet afoot, like wing-footed Mercury. Like Mars, who wielded a spear, Roger and the Mick wielded spearesque bats. Thus, a quadruple plexus: Mercury, Maris, Mantle, Mars. M&M&M&M!

    Conversely, Yankee legend “Babe” George Herman Ruth had no initial M’s in his name whatsoever. He did drive a Lincoln, which is close to a Mercury, but no ci-car. M&M’s confectioner Mars, Inc. purveys candy bars galore. But there are doubts regarding the Babe’s nexus/plexus to Baby Ruth candy bars. That’s all irrelevant, however. Because Baby Ruth bars were manufactured, beginning in 1921, by Curtiss, Nabisco and, currently, Nestle (CNN?). But never by Mars.

    Baby Ruth. Apparently not so mmm-mmm, good.

    Speaking of pies (as you and jan were, above), and regarding you P.S., before I divined that it was a mnemonic device, I fancied that “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us (Nine Pizzas)” alluded to some manner of Scientific Steph family tradition, in which you (or your mother, or both of you) celebrated a “Planet Pizza Party,” perhaps on Feb. 19, Feb. 15, Dec. 27 and/or on Jan. 4.

    I envision an ample round table with a large bowl of Sun Chips surrounded by nine pizzas of appropriately varying sizes: Mercury, cooked very crisply; Venus, spot-lit with a reading lamp; three toy boats approaching the crusty edge of Earth; Mars with no toppings, just tomato sauce; Jupiter, a 24-incher; a circle of sausage links surrounding Saturn; Uranus, an ice-cream “pizza”; a three-tined fork stuck in Neptune’s crust; and Pluto with mini-pizza Disney ears and licorice whip tail. Random peanut-butter-cup and Nut-Goodie “moons” surround the pizzas.

    M&M Musical interlude:
    Mercury
    Mars

    LegoLambEarth

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    1. I'll go with meteoroids, while I'm trying to sort out meteoroids, meteorites, and meteors.

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    2. Remember, there's no up or down in space. Rotate the "M" 90 degrees: the third "M" planet is Σarth.

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    3. All good M choices, JPL!

      And our first musical interlude at PEOTS!

      And more Mirth on Earth couldn't hurt!

      More later...

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    4. If we're talking planetary musical interludes, my vote goes to Jupiter.

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    5. Of course, some rockin' music needs no interludes.

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    6. jan, the one you posted had copyright issues. Perhaps this is it? Wonderful Jollity.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz0b4STz1lo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Gustav Holst has a whole series of planetary interludes...

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    7. Rockin' music has quakeludes instead? ;-)

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  7. In keeping with this week's space exploration theme, Happy Yuri's Night, everyone!

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    1. Happy Yuri's Night. We space cadets here would never forget!

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  8. I learned "My very educated mother just showed us nine planets," so it really falls apart without Pluto.

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    1. Things just haven't been the same with a demoted Pluto, have they? Welcome to PEOTS!

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  9. What happened to the wallpaper and most of the pictures on this blog?

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    Replies
    1. That is a good question! I wrote to Google's Blogger support and asked them to restore them. The only thing I changed was my profile picture. . .

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    2. Maybe they objected to your declaration of Martian law?

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    3. Most have been restored. Yeah!

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  10. More on Mars, as of yesterday:

    http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2014/05/mars

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