Twin Peaks: A Tale of Two "Pyramids"
Two recent space-related news items have made for a nice opportunity to compare and contrast how best (in terms of accuracy) to observe the universe.
Starting with Mars, The Mirror’s headline reads: Nasa’s Curiosity Rover spots PYRAMID on Mars – is it proof of an ancient civilisation?
Without even getting in to the ridiculous “ancient civilisation” notion (it’s just headline eye-candy), the fact that some pictures of a pyramid-looking structure exist on Mars is very interesting. Of all the zany and impossible shapes and formations that people think they’ve seen on the Martian surface (a list which includes an iguana, a forest of trees, and a Bigfoot), I find this one to be one of the least zany. But at the same time, we can’t conclude (like so many conspiracy theorists regularly do) that is an artificial formation based on one picture. The most likely candidate is that it is a large rock or boulder, or a protrusion of rock from under the sand, which happens to (from this angle) look like a 4-sided die. Mars would not be the only planet to feature natural pyramid-looking formations. Earth has several of its own.
Moving over to the dwarf planet Ceres, The Daily Mail’s headline reads: ‘Pyramid’ spotted on Ceres: Mysterious lone mountain discovered towering over the surface of the dwarf planet
This article is a much better read, much more informative. The contrast in style in just the headlines alone should be revealing enough. There is none of the silly remarks about what conspiracy theorists think about this “pyramid”, or even the equally strange bright-white spots we are seeing on Ceres. Check your tinfoil hat at the door. Phil Plait over at Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog offers very insightful commentary on the Ceres mountain observations by the Dawn probe; a very nice supplement to the Daily Mail’s reporting.
Two Pyramids. Two Planets. Two very different ways of reporting. Two ways of looking at natural wonders of the universe.