Thursday, July 2, 2009


It’s gotta be one of the Seven Wonders of the Solar System. I’m amazed that it hasn’t become a global media sensation. Do people really think that American Idol, Brittany Spears, Michael Jackson are more interesting?

I’m talking about the giant hexagon on Saturn’s North pole. The clouds swirl around to make this symmetrical groove, with unbelievably sharp corners. It looks like the lid of a gynormous cookie jar. And the clouds charge around it like a race track – well, it gets me thinking that we don’t know a lot of important things about how this universe of ours works.

For all I know, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for clouds to form geometric shapes that stay that way for years. While in Utah last year, I saw a cloud that looked like a question mark, and my wife got a picture of it. Maybe it’s all a mathematical formula that Rudy Rucker can explain. It still blows my mind.

But that doesn’t explain why nobody else seems to be impressed by the hexagon. It’s like something swept under the rug. I realize that most people who run the media don’t understand the first three things about science, but this is aesthetics! It’s beautiful! It’s mysterious! It’s amazing! It’s just the thing we need now that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is starting to peter out!

It’s an obscure scientific curiosity that most people aren’t impressed with.

I don’t care. I’m used to going against the grain. I will contemplate the Great Saturnian Hexagon, let its mysteries race around my brain, until the visions come.

Like the way it resembles the pentagon you find where a starfish’s legs come together. Maybe someday, the gynormous starfish will wake up,stretch it’s six great legs, shake off the atmosphere, moons, and rings, and go about it’s business.

What would it’s business be?

Why to remind us what a strange and wonderful universe this is, of course!

Or maybe the lid from the giant cookie jar will come off, and we will begin a snack time the likes of which our galaxy has never seen.

Or as Freeman Dyson said, “We never had as much imagination as nature.”

And any Fourth of July fireworks seem dull in comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, now that's not fair. I've been going nuts over the hexagon ever since Cassini sent back the first good picture. (Personally, I have a suspicion that the hexagon is there from matching deep winds traveling north-south deeper within Saturn's atmosphere, but that's going to require a lot more research to confirm. Therefore, I shut up and watch the show.)