Changes around Uranus

Sorry, but its just impossible for me to resist juvenile Uranus humor.  However, the rings around Uranus are indeed changing.  The other day, I wrote about something I call "scientific anthropomorphism," or our tendency to define "normal" in long-time-frame phenomena based upon our very short observational history.  Events on Uranus bear out this fallacy:

The images revealed that the inner rings of micron-sized
dust have changed significantly since the Voyager 2 spacecraft
photographed the Uranus system 21 years ago. Today the inner rings are
much more prominent than expected.

"People tend to think of the rings as unchanging, but
our observations show that not to be the case," said Dr de Pater.
"There are a lot of forces acting on small dust grains, so it is not
that crazy to find that the arrangement of rings has changed."

via The Reference Frame

  • http://www.atlasblogged.com Wulf

    Did you know that the rings around Uranus are sideways?

    (I love saying that in class each year... it really freezes the whole room.)

  • http://www.atlasblogged.com Wulf

    Did you know that the rings around Uranus are sideways?

    (I love saying that in class each year... it really freezes the whole room.)

  • Larry Sheldon

    Even said twice I can not get a picture of what "sideways" might mean in this context.

    I guess I didn't do enough of the geometry homework, or something.

  • dearieme

    "There are a lot of forces acting on small dust grains, so flubbledubble" works about as well.