Why are observatories dome-shaped? They house a telescope… but why the dome? The things can swivel around and stuff without being encased in a dome. So what purpose does it serve?
I’m sorry, I was doing an impression of a resonating object there, mainly because I feel that starting with a description of what resonance is would be pointless. Everyone knows what “to resonate” means, and as far as physical principles goes all schoolchildren get taught about Galileo Galilei and oscillating pendulums when they’re doing their GCSEs. Basically if you have something undergoing a persistent, periodic motion, then it will transfer and store energy with more efficiency at certain specific frequencies resulting in a greater amplitude of motion. Most people understand this in the context of pendulums, as above – where, if you release a pendulum and let it settle for a few seconds, it will eventually swing with a period
where l is the length of the pendulum and g is the pendulum’s acceleration due to gravity.
I picked up a compendium of H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories a couple of weeks ago – mainly so that I could amuse myself by playing Lovecraft Bingo (counting how many times he uses words like ‘accursed’, ‘pnakotic’ and ‘squamous’ ) – and ended up being rather amused when I came across the story “The Whisperer in Darkness”. This consists of about sixty pages of the usual confused rambling while the reader waits for him to get to the damn point already, but ultimately turns out to be about advanced aliens from Pluto who have set up a mining colony in the furthest reaches of the American hills that they’re trying to keep secret. This brought a wry smile to my lips for two reasons:
The whole Pluto “controversy” a few years ago stems from a variety of roots: a bureaucracy which ran a sloppy vote, scientists with vested interests and pet theories on both sides of the argument, and – bizarrely – a great deal of public sentiment for what is essentially a lump of ice and rock out in the middle of nowhere. If you want to trace it back to the beginning, though, you have to start with the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Are you sitting comfortably? Time to Listen with Mother.