Saturday, October 13, 2007
This should be part of the 'press' series. I saw an article about some astronomers discovering there's rain on Titan. Of course, it's not raining water but liquid methane, which is named an 'explosive gas'. This reminded of some show they used to air on Discovery about the moons of the Solar System. They were saying that, if oxygen were present on Titan, and one were to light a match, the whole moon would go up in flames. They were showing an expanding ring of fire that eventually circles the whole orange sphere leaving it black behind. Well, I find that very wrong on many levels. But first of all, methane is not explosive alone, it is explosive when mixed with oxygen, so don't call it that. On Earth it's an explosive gas under normal conditions, true, but not everywhere. Both sources recognize that, but the first still calls it explosive. Second, the whole idea of the moon going up in flames is pointless, because (a) there is no oxygen there and (b) if there was, it would have ignited with the methane from stuff like meteorites. Why ask oneself 'What if there was O_2 on Titan?' if that's not the case? Just for the trivially exciting fire ring. What if suddenly there was a lot of cianide in the air on Earth? We would all be dead, instantly, you could see all the people fall. Cool. Equally pointless.