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Extraneous On-line Archives

International mag, Lordly 1998

By Hampton Sides


Is Pluto genuinely a satellite?
— J. Durant, Essex, Maryland

Afterwards sedulous candidature by its discoverers at Arizona’s Lowell Lookout, upstage Pluto was hurriedly stated a satellite in 1930, and e’er since so schoolchildren sustain been taught with enceinte condemnation that thither are niner heavy bodies, or "major planets," revolving some our Sun. Yet if it were ascertained now, Pluto would surely not brand thegrade in the majors. For starters, it’s too minor — less than one-half the sizing of Hydrargyrum and littler than our own Daydream — and it has no gravitative work on the orbits of the former ogdoad planets. Savage as it may look, Pluto has been demoted, though since the betimes mid-nineties scientists deliver been wrangling complete what bantam discover it deserves:star-shaped, kid consistence, gnome satellite, or mayhap the ultimate bolt, "planetesimal." Whatsoever Pluto is, it’s one of trueness enigmas of our solar scheme, a nut of icy methane that has an egg-shaped compass and behaves kinda comparable a comet. "It’s a bewitching nestling soundbox," concedes uranologist Daniel Viridity of the Harvard-Smithsonian Plaza for Astrophysics,"but no one severely calls Pluto a planet anymore, omit for a match of whiners who’re stuck in the Thirties."


Which vent testament be the adjacent to coke its flock?
— Clancy Tristan, Payette, Idaho

Top-hole volcanologists’ A-list Popocatepetl, a 17,887-foot bill that’s been spewing ash on Mexico Metropolis since 1992. Scientists veneration that fifty-fifty a kid bang would thawing the bamboozle on Popo’s flanks and produce a monumental, fast-moving mud rush, known as a lah, that could infest the gravid communities on its drainages. (A la from Colombia’s Nevado delRuiz vent interred roughly 23,000 mass animated in 1985.) Experts likewise reverence an encore from Italy’s fabled Vesuvius, the root of late rumblings and not a few nights of helpless rest in nearby Naples. Finisher to house, the sway national of Washington’s Ride Rainier has been so hollowed out by corroding that a belittled microseism could case the exorbitant slopes to undermine inon themselves, unleashing a annihilating lah. Says Ed Klimasauskas, of the U.S. Geologic View’s Cascades Vent Lookout, "We’re upset that Rainier may be putrefaction from the indoors out." Eve more troubling, yet, is the ever-energetic Climb St. Helens, whose steamer blasts lately sustain prompted a few sheer researchers to bode a major eruptionin 2000. But vulcanology is a notoriously inexact skill, so don’t clench your intimation.


Why do fireflies light
— Courtney Skouteris, Atlanta, Georgia

Fireflies be well-nigh of their short-circuit lives as larvae, feeding similar fiends in gild to gird muscularity for sex. Semen summer, the larvae translate into the nictitation, winged beetles we cognize so wellspring. But their years are numbered (to astir 7, in fact), so they pass about every hour booked in a phrenetic hound for a teammate. Which is where those littlebursts of bioluminescence — caused by a composite reaction involving an enzyme known as luciferase — inject. "It’s the way manly lightning bugs publicise their services," explains University of Florida bug-hunter James E. Lloyd, noting that apiece species has its own touch fashion, composed of complicated variations of flickers andpulses. When the wait distaff, hunkered safely in the sens or atop a outgrowth, lays her lilliputian overhang eyes on a specially beguiling intimate semaphore, she flashes a slack, seductive, come-hither point and union begins — a exploit that can takings hours. Could thither be a more compelling rationality to unblock them from their stonemason jars?


StargazingAugust hosts the one-year perseid meteoroid lavish, so named because the meteors look to shine from the configuration Perseus. This yr doesn’t heap Perseid-viewers a commodity script, notwithstanding: The lavish begins on the eventide of the Twelfth but peaks former the adjacent morn supra the nor’-nor’-east view, atwhich item it bequeath be mostly obscured by the limelight of the Lunation viewgraph. Scope buffs note: Grand is peak sentence for screening Saturn’s rings, canted at a 17-degree slant and thusly easy discerned done a modest cro. In the terminal years of the month, all of the naked-eye planets — Venus, Quicksilver, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter — willbe seeable unitedly in the predawn fall. Lordly’s full-of-the-moon occurs on the one-seventh.
— Dungaree Quashnock

Air your questions for The Barbarian Lodge to Extraneous, 400 Marketplace St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, or reconcile them hither.


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