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Vulcan, Then and Now January 2, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in ideas, movies, sci-fi, science, science fiction, sense of wonder, Star Trek, web & computers, writing.

1860. The edge of real astronomy was beginning. The math had been developed and applied to orbital motion to understand perturbation and if any glitch showed up, there might, just might, be a reason: another planet. Vulcan was predicted inside the orbit of Mercury based on the wobble in Mercury’s orbit.

The only problem was that Vulcan didn’t exist and it wasn’t until the theory of relativity came along that the collywobbles in Mercury could be explained. When I was working on my BS, one grad student’s dissertation was explaining away another 8 seconds of slowness in Mercury using relativity. A second here, a second there, pretty soon it adds up to explain everything.

The more recognizable Vulcan in modern times, of course, is Spock’s home planet. 2011 looks like a good year for hunting for *that* Vulcan, too. Gliese 581g is a good contender for something more than a big hot rock or one covered with choking Jupiter-like gases.

We can only hope.

And the new year offers a lot more in the way of science. A satellite giving free internet might happen. The guy doing this was an engineer on the SpaceX project.

Maybe not so good are more transgenic foods. Eat them before they eat us? (What movie was that the tagline? Not the Blob. The remake of the Blob? Something about animated tapioca?)

Let’s soar from the mythical Vulcan to the real one this year!

artist conception of Gliese 581g



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