The thing about the status quo in Science is that it never lasts very long. Depending on what time horizon you employ the Science we know and take as the writ of nature, changes. We discover new things that contradict or modify our understanding. It is both disquieting and exciting.
The discovery of Pluto’s mountains and relatively crater free plains with their polygonal shapes is one such. Where we thought that only large planets with active cores could show volcanic activity we are now seeing some as yet not understood mechanism that may make small icy worlds like Pluto geologically active.
Seeing those first few images of Pluto has been a revelation to scientists and amateurs alike. Imagine that sitting here about 4 billion miles away we are speculating what makes the mountains on Pluto!
What we learn may change our concept of our solar system and planet formation yet again, but each step seems filled with breathtaking excitement.
Just yesterday I saw a TV documentary discussing in scientific detail how a manned mission to Mars would operate. Perhaps when we land there (or even Jupiter or Saturn in some years!) we’ll find something that makes our world tilt yet again.
This applies of course to the very small as well as to the very large.
The discovery of the pentaquark has been a little overshadowed by Pluto’s shenanigans. But is no less cool. Will the LHC confirm the supersymmetry view of the world or do we go back to the drawing board?
To have a week like this, filled with such exciting discoveries with potential for taking our thinking in new directions, is one to savour. I just want more photos from Pluto!!