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Big Science and Hot Jupiters

Tags WATT, Release 7

This July 4th weekend NASA managed to drop the Juno probe into orbit around Jupiter. This was accomplished by autopilot. The press treated that like it was something new. There was some doubt? If the folks at JPL and NASA mess that up “your fired” would the operative phrase. The whole idea of an irradiated Juno buzzing around the head of Father Jupiter got me thinkin’ about science, myth, sexism, and beehive hairdos.

Now We’re in Trouble

Back in the day NASA and JPL actually did orbital calculations manually with the Rocket Girls who the scientists and engineers could blame the mistakes on. Most of these ladies had high school diplomas, good math skills, and blazing ten-key fingers. They were formidable. When the IBM computers arrived, JPL couldn’t replace them.

The ladies became the programmers, raised good kids, and colonized La Crescenta. They became so important the Feds and the DOD built the 210 freeway for them. Some say they grew up to be the Church Lady. The Beach Boys even wrote a song about them.

What’s that you say about the muggle, er... middle class?

To most of the public the Juno orbital insertion was a snooze – much like this year’s fireworks show at the nation’s capital. On PBS they played a rerun. Zzzzzz. Ho hum. It’s true. This engineering feat is treated like 30-minute pizza delivery or an Uber ride. Ok, I admit it. Your first time using Uber is a bit weird. Mine was not a Nova, but the driver was a little lady old enough to be from Pasadena. Drove like it too.

We get it. Big Science has to make Juno an engineered marketing event from the get go to keep the funding coming.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a planetary science junkie since childhood and proud of it. I’d like to claim I visited the Rocket Girls one day on the way to a Dodger game. Pop tried. Missed by that much. They wouldn’t let a kid in the front gate back in the day. Our National Security at work. The ladies sent me out a cookie.

No Milk

A childhood spent in defense contractor parking lots – that’s me. But I had a solar-powered transistor radio to listen to, a Dodger Dog diet, and today I can design a serious bad parking lot.

I get annoyed at some of the stupid science stuff that gets repeated. Some of it is equivalent to the New York Times publishing an article today that claims the world is flat or private jets meet in airports by accident so the impor’ant folks can talk about golf and grandkids. Nonsense does slip through the cracks.

One of the most dubious bits of big science fact that continues to show up in the science press is the whole discussion of stellar and planetary formation. I swear this 4th of July weekend I heard a NASA spokesperson talking about how the Juno probe was sent to Jupiter to help us learn how planets like Jupiter were formed AFTER the birth of the sun. What?

There are Big Planets Before There Ever is a Star

Micro gravity aggregation is a key principal of stellar formation. Micro aggregation has nothing at all to do with something make believe made up to sound scientific say “micro-aggression”. Like many important discoveries Micro aggregation was stumbled upon by complete accident and only a few years ago. Everyone was shocked and our view of the nature of the universe changed.

Let’s put the concept another way.
In the primordial electoral sea there are many whirlpools of voters. Some whirlpools get bigger and suck in other eddies. Suck up enough crap and pop goes the weasel. Some pools get left out and yet remain to have a lasting effect on the junk that gets left over. Jupiter is a stellar wanna-be - a bird in a bush if you will.
Ah well. The Juno science should be interesting.

Talk about micro-aggression.
Can anyone tell me why one US presidential candidate must dress like Chairman Mao?

The Search for Hot Jupiters

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