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No. 67: Jan-Feb 1990

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Direct observations of hyperion's chaotic motion

Hyperion is a 150-kilometer-diameter satellite of Saturn. Hyperion's irregular shape and the gravitational pull of Titan, a larger satellite of Saturn, make it a prime candidate for chaotic motion. After accumulating 53 Hyperion-days of observation, J. Klavetter has confirmed this theoretical suspicion. Hyperion's brightness varies wildly from day to day, as it spins unpredictably. The laws of motion and the largest computers are helpless here; although computer simulation can identify situations where chaos might develop.

More alarmingly, some "subtle" chaos also appears in computer simulations of Pluto's motion and "perhaps other planets."

(Kerr, Richard A.; "First Direct View of Solar System Chaos," Science, 246: 998, 1989.)

Comment. Contemplate what might happen -- or might have happened already -- if any of the other planets moved chaotically.

From Science Frontiers #67, JAN-FEB 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987