Saturday, 24 January 2015

This Planet Talk

Over the past week or two, there's been talk by the science guys of two additional planets out there in our solar system.  I should note....there's only talk, no pictures and absolute evidence.  You see, there are some 'bounces' and disturbances a bit beyond Pluto....which leads the science guys to suggest that two planets must exist beyond it and within a reasonable distance.  Size isn't a given, and it's just talk at this moment.

This brings up this topic which will be hotly debated at some point....what do you name the two new planets.

Greek names?  Roman names?  Could we finally name a planet after Socrates?  Might one of the two planets be named just plain "Planet X"?

All of this will transpire into parties and dinners around the astronomy guys....who sit and sip chilled Budweiser and eat peanut butter sandwich while they sip.  In the background, music will be played....Memphis blues, Italian opera, and Johnny Cash epics.  Guys will talk about their failing car transmission one moment, and define comet name listings the next.

Some folks will eventually come to find the two planets....noting that they aren't that big.  Naturally, the number one plan then?  You gotta send a probe out there, and it means a $500 million program, more revenue for the space crowd, and designed to answer the question....what's on this planet?

How long might it take to prove this?  It might take five years for someone to finally solve this.  Maybe it's unsolvable unless we send the probe to prove this.  And we might just discover that it's all bogus and dreamed up by one guy with an agenda to simply get more probe money.  So, you just don't know.

The Park Game Being Played Out

For about a hundred years, there's been this law....the Antiquities Act....which basically said that the Executive Branch (the President and Company) would manage and create national treasures (like the Smokies or Rocky Mountain National Park).   It was a simple act, and folks were enthusiastic back in 1906 that it was the right thing to do.

Now, if you'd asked folks in 1906...just how far this would one would have really been sure about this.  Some would have guessed thirty national parks/monuments.  Some might have figured sixty. Today, we have 184 national parks/monuments.  If you go out to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina....there's a fifty-odd acre park there, just a thousand feet from the beach.  If you go to Russell Cave in's a national monument.

What's come up over the last decade or two....folks asking where exactly it stops.

This week, the Republicans in the Senate saw a bill entered....which would require the Executive Branch to consult and have agreement with the House and Senate before declaring a national park or monument.  Folks tend to'll pass easily in the House, and probably pass the Senate with fifty-plus votes.  The President?  No statement yet, but I'd take a guess he'll veto it.  Will the House and Senate have enough votes to over-ride it?  No idea.

At the current pace of things....if nothing hinders expansion....then I'd take a guess by 2100 (85 years away)....we will have three-hundred parks and monuments.  At some point, I'd suspect that the entire coastline of Oregon will be created into five or six national parks.  Central Park of New York City might eventually become a national park.  And it's possible that vast stretch of the Tennessee River might be one day declared a national park by itself.

Each time you add to the inventory....there's more staff hired up....more support required....and more cash involved.  All of this leads to cost.  These days....just an entry fee for one car is $25 for some of the national parks.  

So, as the weeks go by here in the spring and you hear about this effort to pass the might want to think about the way it was in 1906, and what people were envisioning then.  We are way past that point now.