Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Introducing Mr Das Spunken

Hello I am Mr Das Spunken your host on the Das Spunken blog page. We at Das Spunken like to think of the page as more of a way of life. Over the coming years and months we would like to introdue to you the Das Spunken way of life giving you handy guidance on how to live your life the Das Spunken way.

Many people as me "Is Das Spunken a way of life, to achieve everlasting happiness?" I say "It can be, if you give me all your money and regular access to your girlfriend." Others say "Das Spunken, is it a cult" At least I think thats what they say, but they always seem to spell cult with an N instead of a L.

Here we go then lets enter the world of DAS SPUNKEN


Blogger Ambrose said...

Hello Das Spunken, please tell me, is the moon really made of cheese? A friend of mine keeps telling me it's made of bat's milk, but I think it's just the ghost of St Nicholas winding him up.

I need your advice here.

10 August 2004 at 14:19  
Blogger Das Spunken said...


Everyone knows that The Moon is not like Earth. It does not have oceans, lakes, rivers, or streams. It does not have wind-blown ice fields at its poles. Roses and morning glories do not sprout from its charcoal gray, dusty surface. Redwoods do not tower above its cratered ground. Dinosaur foot prints cannot be found. Paramecium never conjugated, amoebae never split, and dogs never barked. The wind never blew. People never lived there but they have wondered about it for centuries, and a few lucky ones have even visited it.

The major features of the Moon's surface can be seen by just looking up at it. It has lighter and darker areas. These distinctive terrains are the bright lunar highlands (also known as the lunar terrae, which is Latin for land) and the darker plains called the lunar maria, Latin for seas, which they resembled to Thomas Hariot and Galileo Galilei, the first scientists to examine the Moon with telescopes. The names terrae and maria were given to lunar terrains by Hariot and Galileo's contemporary, Johannes Kepler. In fact, the idea that the highlands and maria correspond to lands and seas appears to have been popular among ancient Greeks long before telescopes were invented. Although we now know they are not seas, we still use the term maria, and its singular form, mare.

Closer inspection shows that the highlands comprise countless overlapping craters, ranging in size from the smallest visible in photographs (1 meter on the best Apollo photographs) to more than 1000 km. Essentially all of these craters formed when meteorites crashed into the Moon. Before either robotic or piloted spacecraft went to the Moon, many scientists thought that most lunar craters were volcanic in origin. But as we found out more about the nature of lunar craters and studied impact craters on Earth, it became clear that the Moon has been bombarded by cosmic projectiles. The samples returned by the Apollo missions confirmed the pervasive role impact processes play in shaping the lunar landscape.
The term 'meteorite impact' is used to describe the process of surface bombardment by cosmic object. The objects themselves are variously referred to as impactors or 'projectiles'.

The impact process is explosive. A large impactor does not simply bore its way into a planet's surface. When it hits, it is moving extremely fast, more than 20 km/sec (70,000 km/hour). This meeting is not tender. High-pressure waves are sent back into the impactor and into the target planet. The impactor is so overwhelmed by the passage of the shock wave that almost all of it vaporizes, never to be seen again. The target material is compressed strongly, then decompressed. A little is vaporized, some melted, but most (a mass of about 10,000 times the mass of the impactor) is tossed out of the target area, piling up around the hole so produced. The bottom of the crater is lower than the original ground surface, the piled up material on the rim is higher. This is the characteristic shape of an impact crater and is different from volcanic calderas (no piled up materials) or cinder cones (the central pit is above the original ground surface). A small amount of the target is also tossed great distances along arcuate paths called rays.

Real impacts cannot be readily simulated in a classroom. In fact, there are very few facilities where we can simulate high-velocity impacts. Nevertheless, classroom experiments using marbles, ball bearings, or other objects can still illustrate many important points about the impact process. For example, objects impacting at a variety of velocities (hence kinetic energies) produce craters with a variety of sizes; the more energy, the larger the crater.

The maria cover 16% of the lunar surface and are composed of lava flows that filled relatively low places, mostly inside immense impact basins. So, although the Moon does not have many volcanic craters, it did experience volcanic activity. Close examination of the relationships between the highlands and the maria shows that this activity took place after the highlands formed and after most of the cratering took place. Thus, the maria are younger than the highlands. [See the 'Clay Lava Flows' activity on Pages 71-76 and the Lava Layering activity on Pages 77-82]

How do we know that the dark plains are covered with lava flows? Why not some other kind of rock? Even before the Apollo missions brought back samples from the maria, there were strong suspicions that the plains were volcanic. They contain some features that look very much like lava flows. Other features resemble lava channels, which form in some types of lava flows on Earth. Still other features resemble collapses along underground volcanic features called lava tubes. These and other features convinced most lunar scientists before the Apollo missions that the maria were lava plains. This insight was confirmed by samples collected from the maria: they are a type of volcanic rock called basalt.

The maria fill many of the gigantic impact basins that decorate the Moon's nearside. (The Moon keeps the same hemisphere towards Earth because Earth's gravity has locked in the Moon's rotation.) Some scientists contended during the 1960s that this demonstrated a cause and effect: impact caused not only the formation of a large crater but led to melting of the lunar interior as well. Thus, it was argued, the impacts triggered the volcanism. However, careful geologic mapping using high-quality telescopic images, showed that the mare must be considerably younger than the basins in which they reside. For example, the impact that formed the large Imbrue basin (the Man-in-the-Moon's right eye) hurled material outwards and sculpted the mountains surrounding the Serenitatis basin (the left eye); thus, Serenitatis must be older. The Serenitatis basin is also home to Mare Serenitatis. If the lava in Mare Serentatis formed when the basin did, they ought to show the effects of the giant impact that formed Imbrium. They show no signs of it. Furthermore, the maria contain far fewer craters than do basin deposits, hence have been around a shorter time (the older the surface, the greater the number of craters). The Apollo samples, of course, confirmed these astute geological observations and showed that the maria filling some basins formed a billion years after the basin formed.

One other type of deposit associated with the maria, though it blankets highlands areas as well, is known as dark mantle deposits. They cannot be seen except with telescopes or from spacecraft near the Moon, but are important nonetheless. Before Apollo, most scientists believed that the dark mantle deposits were formed by explosive volcanic eruptions known as pyroclastic eruptions (literally, 'pieces of fire'). Some deposits seemed to be associated with low, broad, dark cinder cones, consistent with the idea that they were formed by pyroclastic eruptionsБ─■this is how cinder cones form on Earth. This bit of geologic deduction was proven by the Apollo 17 mission and its sampling of the 'orange soil', a collection of tiny glass droplets like those found in terrestrial pyroclastic eruptions.

Some mysteries persist about the maria. For one, why are volcanoes missing except for the cinder cones associated with dark mantle deposits? Second, if no obvious volcanoes exist, where did the lavas erupt from? In some cases, we can see that lava emerged from the margins of enormous impact basins, perhaps along cracks concentric to the basin. But in most cases, we cannot see the places where the lava erupted. Another curious feature is that almost all the maria occur on the Earth-facing side of the Moon. Most scientists guess that this asymmetry is caused by the highlands crust being thicker on the lunar farside, making it diffcult for basalts to make it all the way through to the surface.

I hope this answers your question you gimp

17 August 2004 at 09:51  

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