Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can Cheese Shrink? Well, the Moon Can

No doubt, your kids woke you up this morning when they ran into your room shrieking, "The moon is shrinking, Daddy/Mommy/court-appointed-guardian!" And you, as always, reached over to grab the alarm clock to see what friggin' time it is, accidentally knocking the empty bottle of vodka off the night table.

Frankly, you're an unfit parent. But that's not what's important here. The fact is, your kids are correct. They're not the crazy little sugar-powered liars you've always taken them to be. (Seriously, you need parenting counseling.)

The news today is that our planet's one and only moon is shrinking. The Bad Astronomy blog at Discovery explains why and how. But here's what you need to know (consider this the executive summary, you lazy parents): It's not going to change your view of the moon, should you ever look up into the sky anyway; also, the moon isn't going to completely disappear, the Associated Press helpfully informs us.

If you don't trust those liberal media to tell you what's really going on with our only natural satellite, then you might want to go right to the source of Big Space, NASA itself. The space agency tells us: "Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. ... The moon cooled off as it aged, and scientists have long thought the moon shrank over time as it cooled, especially in its early history. The new research reveals relatively recent tectonic activity connected to the long-lived cooling and associated contraction of the lunar interior." Translation: The moon is shrinking.

So read the complete articles if you want the details, or if you want to be able to hold an informed conversation with your children, for once.

Photo detail credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University/Smithsonian

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