Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Asteroid Collided With Jupiter

Pilots will tell you that there are always several causes for airplane crashes and they have to be present or it won’t happen. Each incident will have its own particular set, but they must line up like the holes in swiss cheese.

Each safety device which is developed after a crash eliminates a direct line of holes and makes it more difficult for an incident to happen again. That’s why we have so very few of them in this country.

There is no such learning curve in the universe. Asteroids and other such rocks roaming the solar system tend to find their own pathways and the rules of the road are what they make them to be. If a planet gets in the way, so be it.

Jupiter got in the way a few years ago and the Shoemaker-Levy comet dove right into it without a care in the world. For what might have been the first time, people watched it on live television in the lab and nearly-live on the evening news.

I didn’t say “collided,” as Jupiter is a gas giant. It was as if your car collided with a fog bank, which became thicker as you drove into it, eventually becoming so thick you can hardly make your way. At that point, you find you can almost walk on it without sinking.

As you keep walking, you are on something like Jell-O, then it’s thicker. There’s no real surface, just “solid gas,” and you never actually did collide.


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