Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jupiter is a big fat pig.

People often say that the world is a lot more complicated than it was when they were children. Frankly, I no longer believe that. A little dose of history shows that things are always complicated, but that when you---or anyone, I'm not just picking on you---were a child, you did not know your butt from a hole in the ground. The proper distinction of butt from hole in the ground was your big conundrum, and once solved it seemed like you had this life thing licked.

Then you learned more and more, and life started to look a wee bit tougher.

That aside, one thing that has gotten more complicated is astronomy. For example: When I was a wee tot it was not too hard to know every moon in the solar system. We had one. Mars had two. Mercury and Venus were late getting up and missed the sale. Jupiter, the Big Bubba of the planets, had an astonishing twelve. Twelve moons! The upkeep had to be ridiculous. Some of them (like Ganymede) would have been planets on their own if Daddy would let them leave the farm, but no.

But it was not too hard to get to know them, to memorize them for the quiz on Friday.

Io, Europa, Ganymede, Calysto, Amalthea, Himalia, Elara, Pasiphae, Sinope, Lysithea, Carme, and Ananke.

Then they found Leda and Themisto. Okay, fourteen, but still not too complicated. And yet unsettling. How much further was this thing going to go?

Come to find out that there are now 67 confirmed moons around that big fat bastard! What the hell, Jupe! You greedy solar system slob! No wonder Venus and Mercury got hosed. You took 'em all!

The sad part is that they stopped giving them proper names a while ago. Like no one cared. After they had so many they stopped being special. "Behold the majesty of...uh, S/2003 J 2."

And don't get me started on the whole Pluto thing.

Trust me when I say life is not more complicated than it was when you were a kid. There's just more information and it's more readily available. The big questions are still big. The tough questions are still tough. But the trivia is an avalanche.

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