Friday, July 17, 2015

Observed Absurdities™ 19 - HOW Old?!!?


If you've been anywhere other than under a rock for the last few days, you know all about the ball-of-stuff-formerly-known-as-a-planet, Pluto, and how its years-in-the-making close-up fly-by by the unmanned spacecraft, New Horizons, is rocking the astronomical world.

You know that if Earth was the size of a basketball, Pluto would be the size of a golf ball.

You know that it takes five hours for the radio signals from New Horizons to get to Command Central.

You know that it takes 100 times longer for its data to download than your phone modem took to buffer its way through a secret Napster acquisition.

However...

What I read in Thursday morning's paper...being passed off matter-of-factly as a commonly-accepted matter of fact...is something I don't think any person on this planet can actually know.

In the thrillingly-headlined piece by the Associated Press' Marcia Dunn, Peaks on Pluto are Rocky Mountain high; Charon has canyons, Dunn states...
The zoom-in of Pluto, showing an approximately 150-mile swath of the dwarf planet, reveals a mountain range about 11,000 feet high and tens of miles wide. Scientists said the peaks - seemingly pushed up from Pluto's subterranean bed of ice - appeared to be a mere 100 million years old. Pluto itself is 4.5 billion years old.
I open the paper and read that and just go...



To be, relatively, right there with scientific measuring instruments and still only be able to say the mountains are "about 11,000 feet high," but in the same breath declare the whole planet's age ... I mean ... seriously ... how ... what...?!!?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It may be that measuring observed height has a different degree of accuracy (or even just a smaller scale) than measuring time.