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Thursday, February 16, 2006

I find myself haunted...

How can one man be this deeply in love with a planet he knows he will never visit in person? This is the question I find haunts me again. This love, this obsession is nothing new. It occurs periodically, and I don't know if I should be thanking or cursing the inspiration and be frustrated with whose website sparked it, no matter how inadvertently. Just kidding, Sheryl, on the last part. :) Besides, this love, this disease of mine is my creation, my curse, alone, though at least I'm not the only or the first to be infected. I'll get into the reason for the inspiration later.

The planet in question is Mars, and while I also love Earth, it's like one loves his family, his home. I love Mars like I would a beautiful woman I want to take to bed. I was raised on Star Trek, 2001, Babylon 5, and a slew of other books, films, television series and miniseries, and even comic strips. This perhaps made me more susceptible, but that which tipped the balance is the human nature to explore new frontiers. The priority this is given in my heart waxes and wanes, but it's been there, lurking in the background, for longer than I can remember at this point, and at this point, I don't want a cure. I relish this disease, and the cure would be like a part of me dying.

Sheryl, the inspiration your blog gave me was something simple: that clock you have on your sidebar. I figured that if someone could create a clock that you could just link to and have as a simple image on your blog, the same should be possible with Martian time. However, search as I might, I couldn't find it, so I have been inspired to create my own. The more I researched it, however, the more I realized that I would have to delve into the Martian calendar, which means determining how many days in each month, how many months, what the months and the days of the week are named, and a slew of other questions that I would need to answer. In short, I have a shitload of work ahead of me, and my only hope is that I'm motivated enough to see it through.

I'm diving headfirst into a deep pool of geekdom. Wish me luck and sturdy SCUBA gear. :)


Snave said...

MC, that's the kind of geekdom worth delving into!

I have always been inspired by exploration. It was my favorite part of social studies when I was a kid, learning about all the great explorers, imagining what explorers/pioneers/colonists faced, imagining what America must have looked like before the white settlers came.

Because of that, I am also an avid sci-fi fan and one who likes to speculate about what we would find if we colonized Mars... ancient ruins? Life? Whether it is just plain curiousity or a deeper need to know and to discover, I think exploration is human nature.

I eagerly await the end of the Space Shuttle program, and I look forward to a time when the U.S. returns to the moon. I also look forward to manned missions to Mars; I hope they occur during my lifetime. If they do, I will be glued to whatever media I can for information!

That may all sound odd coming from a left-winger who supports things that the money "could be better spent on" here on Earth... but I believe exploration is part of human nature, a necessary part, and not just for the purpose of conquering or acquiring territory, but for the purpose of knowing. I'm awfully glad Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on their great expedition in the early 1800's. I hope future leaders of our country will have similar visions for space.

A side benefit, of course, would be finding new places to humans to live should Earth end up exploding or becoming uninhabitable... See? There goes my sci-fi mind at work!

I love the early material of Arthur C. Clarke and I love most anything by Philip K. Dick. I have read lots of Asimov, including the Foundation series twice, and I love stuff by Greg Bear, Robert Sawyer and Heinlein. Once in a while I'll go for some Ray Bradbury too... gotta love "The Martian Chronicles"! Although I don't have a great grasp of physics, I also like "hard" sci-fi, like Brin and Bensford. There is just too much good stuff out there and not enough time to assimilate it all!!

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I agree with what you said, and I too have read many of those authors. I started reading Asimov before I hit my teens, and he had a profound effect on me.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but I think my wording is nothing less than proof of how desperately I need a woman. lol

Snave said...

I can remember what it was like to be single, and while there are a few times I still think it might be fun, I really wouldn't enjoy going there again at all.

So yes, well, stay motivated enough to see it through! It is worth delving into.

Sheryl said...

That does sound cool! But wouldn't what time it was on Mars depend on where you were living on Mars?

Or do you mean instead of our gregorian calendar based on the sun and moon position, one based on Mars?

When I was making my solar calendar in NZ, my ex had a program I was using where you could track the earth position relative to celestial locations, such as the sun or any of the planets. That made it much easier to figure.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

It'll be at 0º longitude on Mars, and the calibration for the clock will be midnight 0º longitude on Mars = noon Greenwich Mean Time on 29 December 1873. Basically, I'll be telling the time at, in layman's terms (which I am one, so I'll stick with it, and if you're a scientist, nyah!) Mars' answer to the Prime Meridian.

Sheryl said...

How many days are there in a Martian year?

That will be hard to convert to earth time. You almost certainly have a different number of days, different length in your days. You almost would have to do it as a ratio. Like figure out how many minutes there are in a martian day and then scale it to an earth day.

The months would be easier though because I guess there would still be 360 degrees to Mars just like there are 360 degrees to Earth.

Very confusing stuff--best of luck!

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Well, the Martian day is 88877.24409 seconds (24 h 39 m 37.24409s) long, and is roughly 668.59 Martian Days long. I'm going with a 22 month calendar, with New Year's being on the Vernal Equinox (Northern Hemisphere) 0º longitude.

Snave said...

Gawd, that is really cool! I love thinking about stuff like this.

Once I went so far as to figure out how long it would take one of our special ed students to travel the 26 miles, 385 yards of a marathon. The student has cerebral palsy, and at that time was enthusiastically using a walker. She was able to travel ten feet in 28 seconds. 5280/10 = 528, so 528 x 28 = 14,784 seconds to travel one mile, or 246.4 minutes... or 4 hrs, 6m, 24s to travel one mile. To travel a marathon of 26.202 miles, it would thus have taken her roughly 107 hrs and 36 min, or 4 days, 11 hours and 36 min.

Better yet, Boise, ID is 170 miles from La Grande. That would take her roughly 29 days of steady walking, 24-7. However, given 12 hours daily to rest, eat and sleep... it would be roughly 58 days.

That is one of the problems of being OCD... when unmedicated, I would spend LOTS of time thinking of shit like that.

Your calculations and stuff have some application toward potentially great sci-fi writing. On the other hand, mine might lend themselves to little more than a rejected screenplay for a lowbrow comedy... sigh...

I love the idea of 22 months in a Martian year.

I have also wondered from time to time what it would be like if we had a decimal form of time measurement... Make the day into 20 equal time units, so noon and midnight could be known as 10:00 and 20:00 and we could eat breakfast and dinner at about 5:00 and 15:00. Or how about one thousand equal units for one day? What we now know as noon would be known as 500, and midnight would be 1000. Six o'clock would become 750. I would get up about 200 every day, and go to bed about 900.

Time for me to go take my meds. Scheise...

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I was wrong about my numbers. First, 24h39m37.24409s would be 88777.24409s. Second, the Martian day is actually 24h39m35.24409s, or 88775.24409s.

Snave said...

I think that being precise is a good thing.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I agree, especially in light of this project. But then again, you have OCD, and I have my own host of quirks and neuroses, so who are we to say what's normal? lol

I did try being normal, once. I got over it the next day.

Sheryl said...

I guess you might as well set up a special martian system for the years. You could name them after yourself. Nothing beats a little vanity and is perfectly acceptable in the scientific community. :-)

Just from experience of having set up a calendar, I recommend your month system be aligned with equatorial positions of the sun, which would probably make it relative to 360 degrees.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Well, I'll have the first New Year's Day on the Vernal Equinox (Northern Hemisphere), though backtracking it to 1609 C.E. will be a bit of a chore. As far as the intercalation system, I'm going, in keeping with the Earth tradition, with the tropical year, which in the case of Mars, is 668.5921 Martian days long. For the names of the months, I had been going with the Darian calendar months, omitting the last two, but instead, I'm going to mix two different forms of mythology.