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A big sea far, far away

Enjoying a bit of time off work this afternoon, sitting outside on my back terrace in deepest Pimlico (oh, the wonders of wireless!), I decided to stop bothering about the patronising berk who leads the Tories and came across this story:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of huge seas — one of them bigger than any of North America’s Great Lakes — on Saturn’s largest moon, scientists said on Tuesday.

Big seas? I wonder if yachting or swiming on the beach is possible?

Scientists studying the images taken by the probe, which blasted off a decade ago, said the seas on Titan were likely filled with liquid methane or ethane and that the discovery reinforced previous theories.

All that liquid methane – do they have cows on that planet?

Seriously, the material being discovered by these probes is astonishing. At a time when our horizons appear to be shrinking in a fear-mongering political climate, it is nice to remember that some organisations, even state ones like NASA, are making discoveries like this. I guess a libertarian purist might object to the NASA funding model, but I am sure privately-funded ventures could pull this sort of thing off, if not in quite the same scale initially.

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23 comments to A big sea far, far away

  • Midwesterner

    Big seas? I wonder if yachting or swiming on the beach is possible?

    It looks like Henri Lloyd will need to expand their line of foul weather gear.

    I’m in. Who’s skippering?

  • Nick M

    JP,
    Yup, lots of people object to Nasa’s funding model without objecting to their core activities. Of course a lot of us object to some of those activities as well. I frankly don’t see the ISS as being anything other than a gigantic money-pit in the sky and the shuttle-replacements are truly dismal. C’mon people, the US tax-payer funds you most handsomely and where’s the space-elevator and the hypersonic variable cycle scramjets?

    I’m going to be somewhat off-line for a few days because my beloved Thalia is in the shop (looks like she blew a RAID array) so I’m reduced to the Thinkpad. I’ve learned a signal lesson in terms of our dependence on technology. Until I fired this little creature up I thought I was dead. No, really. It was horrible.

  • manuel II paleologos

    There’s a fantastic photo of it on the BBC site.

    (Link)

    I realise that these things have false-colour and that Titan is actually a very dark, cold, murkey place, but it’s a sensational picture nevertheless.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    manuel, thanks for that. Great photos.

  • Sam Duncan

    When I read about this, I found myself punching the air and shouting, “YESSS!” at the top of my lungs. I immediately pretended it was because Scotland had just taken a wicket of course, but anyone who’s read Stephen Baxter’s Titan will understand. I hope.

    It’s an intriguing place.

  • Midwesterner

    I so long for the day, (hopefully soon) when we can, like explorers of old, band together, buy or build a (space) ship and set away to find our fortunes out in the unexplored.

    Sigh… Anybody got anything going?

  • veryretired

    Hey Mid—got any room for an old fool with bad knees? I can cook, and I even clean up after myself.

    We could call it the “Gully Foyle”.

  • nicholas gray

    This all sounds unnecessarily defeatist! We need not give up on Earth at all! In fact there’s a country where libertarians could make a big impact, if we tried! Have you thought that Zimbabwe could become the libertarian society that frees Africa from statist regimes? At the moment, the economy is collapsing! I think the average Zimbabwean is now most susceptable to any pro-capitalist books and information that we, the liberty-lovers, care to give him! We should all be leviathan-hunting here on Earth! The Mugabe Leviathan is more funky than the Cameron; Boy, has he funked up his country! (or do I mean ‘thugged’?)
    Let’s leave Heavenly fantasies to NASA, whilst we spend our own money to build a better world here!

  • Sunfish

    Mid, if you have any leads, I’m all over it.

    We could steal a line from Jerry Pournelle. The planet Sparta in the Falkenberg’s Legion books would be an okay arrangement.

    We could also go with Nicholas Gray’s idea, Rhodesia II: Ian Smith’s Revenge

    My only problem is, I’ve been a cop my entire adult life and therefore am probably not capable of honest work.

  • Nick M

    Sunfish,
    Don’t you also own a restaurant or something? Or am I just confusing you with Steve Sloan from Diagnosis Murder?

    I do apologise if comparing you to Dick Van Dyke’s idiot son is grossly offensive.

    I am somewhat coming round to Mr Gray’s Rhodesia scheme because unless Mid has been tinkering with something quite special in his backyard in WI then I doubt we’re getting to Titan anytime soon. Which is a shame.

    For all of you into free-wheeling capitalism with a hint of space combat then I suggest that in the meantime you download the abandonware game Hardwar from the Underdogs. It is the spiritual successor to Elite and despite highly dubious aerodynamics is utterly brilliant. It’s a game to lose weekends to and is also set on Titan in the dystopian city of Misplaced Optimism (Mis-Op). It’s well worth downloading the assorted upgrades to the game which should be available from Captain Zedo and of course you’ll want a custom skin on your moth and I advise you get one from Captain Kronos although the site looks a total dog in Firefox it does work. A curse be upon you NetObjects Fusion!

    Pure genius. A game of rare brilliance. It’s up there with Alpha Centauri. It really is that good.

    We are the loyal and greedy moth pilots of Titan!

  • DucanS

    Nick M –

    Thanks for the link to the game. This looks sweet. I can’t wait to get the opportunity to load this up and play it.

    The sci-fi sim genere is sadly barren these days.

  • RAB

    Does anyone remember the Jefferson Starship album
    Blows Against The Empire?
    Not a bad anthemic attempt at a concept album.
    The concept being a bunch of San Fran Hippies hijack a starship and head off into the wild blue wherever.
    A cynical friend of mine said at the time,
    I bet they re-name the ship the Mayflower!

  • Midwesterner

    Hey Mid—got any room for an old fool with bad knees? I can cook, and I even clean up after myself.

    Well, VR, that would make at least two old fools with bad knees. But I can eat and mess things up, so all may not be lost. And with Sunfish we have a gunner and somebody to get our asses out of space bar brawls intact.

    I have wanted as long as I can remember to see the earth fall away behind me much as the shore does when I’m off in a boat. I remember when the Eagle landed on the moon. We were on a road trip with a canoe on the roof and a tent-trailer behind us. My dad was driving and we pulled off to the side of the road and listened to the play by play on the radio. If I had any idea then how slowly things would progress from that incredible event, …

    Hey Nick, have you got the reflector spheres for the fusion impulse drives worked out yet? I musta sent you the design concept almost a week ago.

    Nick is apparently testing control software and er… Hardwar, and that’s why the drives aren’t getting worked on.

  • RAB

    True story. I absolutely swear!!!
    I watched the moon landing round at my friend Walter’s house, with a few mates and his parents.
    To us kids it wasn’t that big a deal really.
    We were brought up on Dan Dare and Skyhawks, Superman etc. We all thought, like Mid that we would all be doing that, if not soon, then easily within our lifetimes.
    When it came for the big moment
    “One small step for man one giant leap for mankind…”
    Walter’s mother, who wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, came out with-

    “I think it’s really brilliant and brave of the BBC to be there to film them landing”

    Despite being under age all we could do, after that, was go down the pub and laugh our socks off!

  • a.sommer


    Sigh… Anybody got anything going?

    When do we ship out?

  • Nick M

    RAB,
    I’m suing you! I fell off my chair when I read that.

    Mid,
    My PC is apparently fixed and my panic is over. So… I’ll get onto building the star-ship. I’ll do tech-support. I can be as lazy and surly as the best of them. Yea cannae change the laws of physics!

  • Midwesterner

    Yeah, well, no rush. The guy who’s working on the DeuTrit pellets hasn’t got back to me yet. I should have known to get more than a phone number on a beer coaster from a guy with green feathers and three eyes. I probably got the country code wrong. Or maybe he’s just out of reach of a cell tower.

    So Nick, with this Tesla thing, is it your plan to use positrons to trigger the first fusion pulse? Interesting idea. But, as they say, the devil may be in the details.

  • Sunfish

    Sunfish,
    Don’t you also own a restaurant or something? Or am I just confusing you with Steve Sloan from Diagnosis Murder?

    Not me. I brew beer in my garage, but that’s it. I know better than to try to make money cooking for strangers.

    Yeah, well, no rush. The guy who’s working on the DeuTrit pellets hasn’t got back to me yet. I should have known to get more than a phone number on a beer coaster from a guy with green feathers and three eyes. I probably got the country code wrong. Or maybe he’s just out of reach of a cell tower.

    The roaming charges on Tau Ceti VI are a bitch.

    RAB:
    Everybody knows that the BBC just bought the footage from CBS, who got it from A(ustralian)BC, who filmed it in their secret undersea studios.

  • nick g

    Hey, Sunfish, that’s news to us here in West New Zealand! I thought the moon landing was a Hollywood hoax, so you could claim to have beaten the Russians at something! I remember watching it on TV at school, and being…. disappointed. Where was the stirring music? TV had already conditioned me to expect music at any great event, so where was the music? Of, course, if we were faking it, we hadn’t finished the Opera House yet, so of course there was no music! It all makes sense now! Thanks for clearing that up!

  • Sunfish

    Where was the stirring music? TV had already conditioned me to expect music at any great event, so where was the music? Of, course, if we were faking it, we hadn’t finished the Opera House yet, so of course there was no music! It all makes sense now! Thanks for clearing that up!

    Actually, Kevin Bloody Wilson had something written for the event. However, a memo was sent around that 1969 was too early for Australian music to be exported, the rest of the world not yet being ready, and so he ended up saving the music for a few decades and writing new lyrics about a cricket player who didn’t save his energy for the game.

  • nick g

    Sunfish, it’s always good to have these conspiracies exposed. Contrarily to your statement, not everyone knows. I only just found out, so it’s ‘everyone – 1’. And there may be more innocents abroad. Were ALL the landings fakes? Why was Elvis killed? Why does the Vatican have a lightning rod on it’s roof? Will we ever know the answer to these deep and meaningful questions? Us dwellers of North Antarctica would sure like to know!

  • Sunfish

    Elvis isn’t dead. He’s managing the Ayre’s Rock Papa John’s. Better ingredients, better pizza!

    The real landings weren’t faked. However, I was on a three-day bender, and all I remember is waking up and wondering how I ended up on the moon.

    And the Italian golfers are all using one-irons this year. As not even God can hit one of those, the Vatican needs the protection.

  • nick g

    You should write to New Dawn, or the ‘National Enquirer’, or other reputable nagazines, and tell all you know! Do you think Wilson was angry at being silenced for all those years? How come Elvis hasn’t written a new single? How’d you get off the moon if you didn’t remember getting there? Next time you go on a bender, can I come to?