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Hubble Discovers Dark Spot on Uranus 330

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the matches-dark-spot-on-my-soul dept.
TheDawgLives writes "Just as we near the end of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, winds whirl and clouds churn 2 billion miles away in the atmosphere of Uranus, forming a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States."
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Hubble Discovers Dark Spot on Uranus

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  • by Kimos (859729) <.kimos.slashdot. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:12AM (#16303935) Homepage
    Must... resist... bad... jokes...
    • by Lazerf4rt (969888) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:33AM (#16304345)
      I challenge anybody to post a +5 Insightful comment about this story. It can't be done!
      • by strider44 (650833) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:46AM (#16304579)
        Don't worry, your post will get there. I admit I burst out laughing as soon as I read the headline but if you want something mildly insightful I might as well fill in something while I have the time.

        Is it any surprise that there's a dark spot on Uranus? Jupiter has a couple of huge cyclones raging on in there, so does Saturn. Both the planet's black spots are bigger than Uranus' anyway. Uranus is a gas giant, since there's going to be some wind going on there I'm not exactly shocked that huge cyclones have formed.

        Enormous cyclones I think are just a side-effect of gas giants. I don't think it's anything to get excited about.
      • by hcdejong (561314)
        Has anyone noticed the size of that dark spot? It's 3000 km wide, and all we have is a 20x20 pixel image.
        1. Considering Uranus is 2x10E9 km away, it's amazing we even have this much.
        2. Why don't we know more? All we have in terms of 'nearby observation' is one of the Voyagers passing by.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lazarian (906722)
        Uranus is different from the other planets in the fact its axis is tilted almost ninety degrees - for two periods of its 84 year orbit one half of the planet is always pointed away from the sun. From the picture it looks like right now its equator is perpendicular towards sunward. Even though its distance means it would recieve little solar heat, it does have a large surface area. I would think that right now any heat would be more or less evenly distributed because of its rotation. But it would be interest
      • by linuxguy1454 (856932) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @12:17PM (#16307089) Homepage
        OK, time to salvage this from all the jokes.

        From the image, it looks like the spot could be 19.5 degrees north of the equator. Years ago, I read a paper by Richard C. Hoagland, author of The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever (1987). Although a lot of his paper seemed like wild speculation to me, I remember one "message" he deduced from the so-called area near the "face on Mars." There is a characteristic of planetary dynamics which produces an anomoly at 19.5 degrees north or south lattitude, depending on the magnetic pole of the planet. This is related to the rotating molten core of the planet.

        Jupiter's famous red spot is a 19.5 deg. south lattitude. Hoagland predicted a spot on Neptune at 19.5 degrees lattitude before the Voyager discovered it. On earth, Hawaii's Mona Loa volcano, the world's largest and continuously active volcano, is at 19.5 deg. north lattitude. (The Hawaiian islands were all made by passing over the spot where Mona Loa is now.) Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, is at 19.5 deg lattitude. The "face on Mars" is 1/3 of the way around from Olympus Mons, at 19.5 deg. lattitude.

        So the spot on Uranus (not on mine!) has nothing to do with solar energy. It is an artifact of planetary dynamics.

        As an additional note- if you place a tetrahedron (a triangular pyramid) inside a shpere so that it's tip touches the north pole and it's 3 base points touch the insides of the sphere, they touch at 19.5 degrees south lattitude.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          So the spot on Uranus (not on mine!) has nothing to do with solar energy. It is an artifact of planetary dynamics.

          As an additional note- if you place a tetrahedron (a triangular pyramid) inside a shpere so that it's tip touches the north pole and it's 3 base points touch the insides of the sphere, they touch at 19.5 degrees south lattitude.

          I'm not refuting you, since I'm not qualified to. But it absolutely bakes my noodle that planetary features would always occur at 19.5 degrees south lattitude. What for

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RealGrouchy (943109)

            I'm not refuting you, since I'm not qualified to. But it absolutely bakes my noodle that planetary features would always occur at 19.5 degrees south lattitude. What forces could possibly be happening to make planets all end up with significant features at the same point?

            First, he said 19.5 degrees north or south.

            Second, 19.5 degrees is not a point, it's a line/locus. He's not saying that Slartybartfarst always signs on the same point on the canvas.

            Third, I find your "I can't think of an explanation for th

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by linuxguy1454 (856932)
            Hoagland doesn't explain the 19.5 degree thing, he basically says that it seems to be a result of unexplained planetary dynamics for which nobody seems to have a theory for. What is more weird than the 19.5 thing is how he claims to have figured it out, be we won't go into that. The pyramid thing is just an attempt by him to provide some sort of mathematical law expressed in geometric terms that appears to be related to these unknown planetary dynamics. Like using geometric principals to explain Keplar's o
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by CheshireCatCO (185193)
          Holy too much sig. fig., Batman! None of the Great Red Spot,the Great Dark Spot, and the Great White Spot are at 19.5 degrees south latitude on their respective planets. Their latitudes vary around 20 degrees south, but 19.5 is putting way too much precision on it. (If Hoagland insists on being that precise, then you have to accept that the numbers disagree with the data.) Plus, the Great Dark Spot disappeared a while ago. How does that fit in with the theories? And how does he base his prediction on
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Must... resist... bad... jokes...

      Hmm, I wonder if X marks the spot here too? :-o
    • I was so excited by this fascinating story that I went out and told our cute secretary, "Hey, guess what? There's a dark spot on Uranus and it's large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States!" Somehow, I don't think she knew what I meant...
  • oblig. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kreigaffe (765218)
    Insert butt joke [here]

    (insert insert joke [here])
  • by jeffs72 (711141) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:12AM (#16303977) Journal
    "forming a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States."

    I'd like to know when this will happen so I can move to, say, Canada.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by diamondsw (685967)
      "forming a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States."
      I'd like to know when this will happen so I can move to, say, Canada.


      I'd get a move on, since it's already engulfed 50% of the US as of 2004...
  • OMG (Score:2, Funny)

    They've found Klingons on Uranus!
  • by w3weasel (656289) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:16AM (#16304041) Homepage
    Due to the decades of jokes involving the name of this planet, and in light of the fact that a change in pronunciation during the 80's did nothing to curb the lowbrow humor, the same panel of scientists who removed Pluto from our solar system, have deciced to rename Uranus. Henceforth, this planet shall be referred to as Urectum.
  • by OakDragon (885217)
    A little off-topic, but since the posting does mention it...

    Just as we near the end of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

    The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration still has this headline on their front page:

    NOAA Continues to Predict Above-normal Hurricane Season [noaa.gov]

    So what kind of hurricane season have we had?

    • Tropical Storm Alberto
    • Tropical Storm Beryl
    • Tropical Storm Chris
    • Tropical Storm Debby
    • Hurricane Ernesto
    • Hurricane Florence
    • Hurricane Gordon
    • Hurricane Helene
    • Hurricane Isaac
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stupidfoo (836212)
      Clearly, global warming is causing this lack of hurricanes and major storms.

      Why not? It gets blamed for everything else.
    • It's alright though, if one year there aren't many hurricanes, we can just delete it from the evidence when proving that ExxonMobil is causing natural disasters.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Heatwaves?
    • by LMacG (118321)
      Although we are closer to the end of the season than the beginning, it does officially last until November 30, so there is a chance of more activity.

      However, there have been reports [usatoday.com] that a developing El Nino has reduced the likelihood of hurricane formation.
    • by radtea (464814)
      The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration still has this headline on their front page:

      All weather organizations everywhere are incredibly biased toward reporting their predictions rather than reality, as if their predictions were either newsworthy or remotely accurate.

      There was a case in Winnipeg a few years ago where a major storm hit the city and yet Environment Canada continued to report "possibility of snow flurries" twelve hours after the whole city had shut down due to heavy snowfall. The
    • by SETIGuy (33768)
      Four named storms and 5 hurricanes.

      Isn't that 9 named storms and 5 hurricanes? A named storm doesn't stop being a named storm when it becomes a hurricane.

  • Let's send up some bog roll on a rocket.

    We're going for the fucking record here!

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:22AM (#16304163) Homepage Journal
    Farnsworth: I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.

    Fry: Oh. What's it called now?

    Farnsworth: Urrectum. Here, let me locate it for you.
  • well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by jimstapleton (999106) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:24AM (#16304197) Journal
    I guess it didn't loosten it's asteroid belt fast enough when it got to the big dipper...
  • by theskipper (461997) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:25AM (#16304207)
    It just makes you look desperate for a +5 funny.

    The poor planet has been the butt of far too many attempts at humor.

  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:26AM (#16304231) Homepage Journal
    now that's a bad case of wind..
  • attempting to cover the problem of the jokes about the name "Uranus" by renaming the planet to "Urknickers"...
  • by mottie (807927) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @09:37AM (#16304429)
    One camp of scientists believe the dark spot is raised in elevation and are thus vying to name it "the turtlehead" whereas another group believes that it is actually a hole, and is fighting to name the spot "puckered starfish". More to follow.
  • Too many jokes...

    Head explodes
  • And I knew.. there would not be ONE serious discussion on the topic. People asking for a cessation of rectal humor are basically.. well.. fartin in the wind.
  • easily could engulf the US AND Canada.
  • [...] a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States.
    How big is that in libraries of congress?
  • Must...not...make...obvious...jokes...about...Uran us!

    I can't resist...

    "Today thousands of Slashdot readers injured their backs trying to see the dark spot on Uranus they were told existed"
  • Thanks, Slashdot. Just when I'd forgotten about the 'anal bleaching' procedure shown on Channel 5 a while back, this topic title brought all the horror flooding back.
  • *da* *bump* *bump*. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.
  • forming a dark vortex large enough to engulf two-thirds of the United States.

    Last time I looked for it US was still on Earth! But who cares, let's delve into curious, if pointless, analogies.

    Did you know that if I print my hard drive on paper as hexadecimal Arial 14pt, the stack will reach the moon?

    The number of connections possible in my brain are more than the atoms in the universe! Of course most of us in practise sport a lot less connections, since apparently atoms are in defficit.

    At least, with IPv6, e
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @10:48AM (#16305595)
    Isn't the Hubble supposed to be pointing away from Earth?
  • The dark spot appears to be comprised of thousands of black monoliths that are increasing at a geometric rate and look something like this [wikipedia.org].
  • Geesh, you young whippersnappers. Everyone knows its called Urectum now.
  • Well, that's now how the story goes the way I heard it.

    What I heard happened was that you took a trip to Europa and wound up at a party where you were trying to pick up this chick Phoebe and her friend Miranda. They blew you off so you started drinking way too much Ganymede. Before you knew it, you were so blasted that some leatherman who was built like Atlas and hung like a Titan packed you into his Saturn, lowered your Kuiper belt and violated your I/O protocols. Then you released an Oort cloud. Someh
  • To be honest, I was avoiding this thread because the headline was just begging for a flood or "uranus" jokes. Then I thought, "I bet the actual article is not such an obvious straight line". Well,

    "Hubble Discovers Dark Cloud in the Atmosphere of Uranus"

    I stand corrected.

  • Just more proof that Bush hates Uranians.

  • That is going to need a lot of cream.

  • Astronomers should look into Anal Bleaching [wikipedia.org], I hear Tabitha Stevens [wikipedia.org] endorses it to remove unsightly dark spots on her anus...
  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Wednesday October 04, 2006 @12:48PM (#16307599)
    Higher resolution imagery demonstrated that the spot was comprised of millions of rectangular objects of unknown origin, each with dimensions of 1 x 4 x 9.

    I, for one, welcome our new universal and infinite intelligence.
  • ...when Jupiter has had a bright red storm for at least 400 years that could probably engulf the entire earth. But I guess Uranus is just doing its own thing, not really trying to impress anyone.
  • On closer inspection, the spot is full of multiplying monoliths
  • Or what do you call it when a story submission has been on a Slashbox for days?
  • I think we're about to get a new sun!

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