Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Musings on the Big One

by Bruce Carroll

It would be hard to see, were it not for the sunlight reflecting from the clouds. It gives off no light of its own. But while it may be hard to see, no more than a dot in the darkness as you look at it, it is easy to hear, if you know how to listen. It groans and quavers in the 0.6–30 MHz range. [1]

If you were to go there, you would doubtless notice the banded clouds. While not particularly colorful – mostly ochre and various shades of brownish-orange – the cloud bands are quite distinctive. As you get even closer, you would doubtless notice the clouds are moving. The whole thing rotates every ten hours or so, and you would easily be able to tell by following the famous “red spot,” a storm which has been churning in the upper atmosphere for at least two hundred years (and probably much, much longer). If you watched closely, you would see that the alternating bands of clouds move in opposite directions as the whole thing rotates.

As you keep getting closer, you begin to realize it is big. Very, very big. In fact everything in the solar system, other than the sun itself, could easily fit inside it, if it were only hollow; every planet, every comet or asteroid, all of the dwarf planets, bits of rock and ice and dust, all would fit inside with room left over. No wonder it is named after the king of the gods!

It is also cold. The mean temperature there is around minus 232 degrees Fahrenheit. It has impressive auroras and massive lightning storms (which make its radio signal “spike”).

It has been known as Marduk, Dias, Zeus, Jove, and the name by which we know it today, Jupiter. Not that it cares; it goes on rotating as it revolves around the sun, its storms roiling, its auroras shimmering, its lightning flashing, belching forth radio signals no human ear can detect.

Sign up for my newsletter and get a FREE DIGITAL COPY of Acting: From First Audition to Final Bow

No comments:

Post a Comment