Science is a wonderful thing to behold, especially when it comes out with an "explanation" that is essentially a Chicken Little scenario. In this case, the "explanation" concerns that strange equatorial ridge on Saturn's moon Iapetus, a strange feature that, when examined closely, appears also to have three parallel "grooves" running along the summit of said equatorial ridge, which runs more or less perfectly along the moon's equator. This feature fueled much speculation in the alternative community, from Richard C. Hoagland's "A Moon with a View" to yours truly's book Cosmic War, maintaining that such features are more typical of artificiality then of natural occurrences on celestial bodies.
Now, so many of you sent me one or another version of this announcement that it would be impossible for me to thank you all individually for doing so, but I have to confess, when I read a couple of versions of this story, I just had to laugh, because the scenario being offered as a "natural" explanation for the ridge is truly a Chicken Little scenario, and for the life of me, I cannot understand how one could maintain a straight face while adhering to it. But there's a significant catch. We'll get back to that in a moment. Here's the story:
Discover magazine is, perhaps, holding its tongue firmly in its cheek, given the headline of the article, and if so, I don't blame them. Here's what we're being told is the "explanation" for the ridge(Note that, as far as I've been able to tell from the various articles, they're only explaining the ridge, not the three apparent parallel "grooves" in the Cassini images):
"It may sound like something out of “Chicken Little,” but at some point in the history of Saturn’s moon Iapetus, the sky was actually falling: Scientists reported this week that an entire 800-mile-long mountain range along the moon’s equator formed after it fell from space.
"Iapetus doesn’t feature the telltale signs of volcanism and geologic activity that typically build mountains, which had made the existence of the bulging equatorial ridge a bit of a mystery. In a new study, researchers constructed 3-D maps of the mountain range using images captured by the Cassini spacecraft. By analyzing the shape of the triangular peaks, some up to 12 miles high, researchers concluded that the mountains were created from material that crashed onto the surface of Iapetus at some point in its history."
The Discover article goes on to point out that the theory has not yet been "peer reviewed", but there it is. We're being asked to believe on the basis of a computer-claptrap model that the ridge "fell from the sky" after "rings" were formed around the planet, rings which were unstable, and which fell into the surface of the planet.
Uh huh. (What about those three parallel grooves? Were there three neatly parallel ring unstable ring systems?) Oh...hooray! those are explained too:
Now, here's another presentation of the same theory:
Note the last two paragraphs of that article. Here's the first one:
OK...a moon with a moon which became tidally shredded to form a neat ring, which was unstable, which then fell to Iapetus' surface and formed that neat equatorial ridge. (And, presumably, became shredded in such a way to form three closely bunched parallel rings in three planes which were all unstable and then fell to the planetary surface? Wouldn't the stuff whirling around in those three rings have been gravitationally attracted to each other to form one ring system(which was unstable) to fall to the surface? Come on guys, help me out here... Would Iapetus have had sufficient force to be able to shred its own moon? Can we see what the possible mass of that moon may have been? Would it have been enough to create the equatorial ridge?...)
Now, in the context of all my amateur bystander's silly questions, the last paragraph of this second article is worth noting:
"But whatever the source, it seems scientists are agreeing that Iapetus couldn't have created the mountain range without some help from up above."
I don't know about you, but that strikes me as yet another tongue in cheek remark. "Help from above?" Help implies helpers. Helpers implies intelligence. Intelligence implies...
...on yea, we can't go there. The ridge has been "explained." Perfectly natural. We have created a mechanism to explain it without having to invoke the Ockhamist principle(which does not appear to support the naturalist explanation, in my opinion). Nothing to see here.... move along, it fell from the sky after a moon was tidally shredded to form an unstable ring system which collapsed and fell on poor Iapetus....
See you on the flip side...