Prometheus & Pandora

For many years the Titan community allowed itself to be represented in blogland by the eponymous satellite of Saturn. Alas, accumulated bugs have wiped out Titan and we must start anew in a different blogger .  Prometheus (looking forward) will continue the task of musing and links about people and politics, with an emphasis on human rights, as seen from the little Olympus of The Mediterranean Towers at Nordiya. His beloved Pandora will help just as she helps shepherd the F ring.  Both of them also orbit Saturn from much closer to the planet.

Cratered Spud

Prometheus as seen by Cassini

His stupid brother Epimetheus (looking backward)


got to marry Pandora

Pandora's Color Close-up


after Prometheus was bound to a rock where a bird ate at his liver every day, all this for giving fire to humans.

The thin F-ring is held in place by the joint gravitational effects of Pandora and Prometheus.

Black and white image of large, thin ring of Saturn with two small white moons circling

This spectacular image shows Saturn’s moons Prometheus (at right) and Pandora (at left), with their flock of icy ring particles (the F Ring) between them. Pandora is exterior to the ring, and closer to the Cassini spacecraft here. Each of the shepherd satellites has an unusual shape, with a few craters clearly visible.

The effect of Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) on the F ring is visible as it pulls material out of the ring when it is farthest from Saturn in its orbit. Pandora is 84 kilometers (52 miles) across.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Now that we have introduced our dramatis personae, we can get back to our blog.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Prometheus and Pandora hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.


Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun Late

Prometheus, Pandora and friends mourn the passing of our friend and colleague Akiva Bar-Nun, professor emeritus of planetary science at Tel Aviv University. His research covered wide areas in the field including:


  •     Laboratory simulations of cometary ices. Member of the teams of ROSINA and ALICE instruments on board the ROSETTA spacecraft.
  •     The chemistry of Titan’s atmosphere and aerosols. Member of the HASI team on the HUYGENS spacecraft which landed on Titan.
  •     Lightning on Jupiter, Saturn and in Earth‘s primitive atmosphere.
  •     Processes which led to the emergence of life on Earth

He also served as Director General of The Israel Space Agency,1989-1993 and as its Vice Chairman,1993-1995. He joined our Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences in 1976 and rose through the ranks. He retired in 2007 but continued to be active in science for many years after his retirement.

In addition to  laboratory simulations of space environments such as the atmospheres of Jupiter and Titan, comet nuclei and comae,  he was an active participatant  in spacecraft experiments from Comet Halley in 1986 to the orbiter and lander of comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2016.Akiva had a great interest in the origin of life on our planet and taught a course on the subject in the Faculty of Life Science at our University. We append a list of his publications.

In addition to being a great scientist, Akiva was always a
delightful friend and colleague. We shall miss him sorely.



Prometheus, Pandora and their friends have been watching the performance of President Trump with awe and disbelief. It is clear that he has no idea how to carry out his task and the future of the American people indeed appears dim. One might argue that they brought this upon themselves (certainly true of Netanyahu and Israel), but Trump is in a position to wreak havoc on the entire planet. Populist rabble-rousers of his type have replaced liberals and democratic leaders in countless countries around the world.

President Trump struggling to pull the cap off a pen as he signed an executive action to order the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Melik Kaylan, writing in Forbes, tells us what to expect and on which democratic institutions not to rely to rein in Trump and his Republican Party. Miklos Haraszti, a Hungarian author and director of research on human rights at the Center for European Neighborhood Studies of Central European University, describes, in the Washington Post, how the system works and how it turned Hungary from a post-Cold War democracy into a populist autocracy. It took just a few years and the process is complete. The same things happened in countries all around the world, in Russia, in Georgia, in Turkey, in Poland and Hungary, to name a few. Suddenly the reins of power and the nuclear codes have been put into the hands of a disturbed child, as stated well by Maureen Dowd in the NYTimes.
Please join Amnesty International who are protesting in the USA
against the impetuous and fascistic actions of Trump. We append the following letter from AIUSA and call upon you to open the link and donate.

“Law-abiding Americans, who also happen to be Muslim, are facing serious threats in President Trump’s America – including calls for a special registry and a dangerous climate of hateful rhetoric and hate crimes.

Now President Trump has picked top officials who are on record supporting religious tests and condoning racism — people like Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions.

Amnesty has been mobilizing our grassroots activists and has been working with decision-makers in Washington to demand scrutiny of Trump’s nominees and their intentions.

We need you to support our urgent work with a financial contribution. Our priorities are:

  • Pushing back when Trump’s agenda puts human rights at risk: We’re fighting threats to American Muslims, proposals to bring back torture, and plans to block refugees from coming to the U.S.
  • Demanding scrutiny of presidential appointments and nominations: We’re bringing public attention to these individuals’ views on human rights and demanding that members of Congress hold them to account for human rights.
  • Empowering Amnesty members to put grassroots pressure on Congress: Our network of activists in all 50 states is going to be more important than ever in the months ahead, and we’re training and expanding our capacity so that we’re stronger than ever.

Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines and watch. Now is the time to act. Please join us and make a donation. ”

Thank you.

Margaret Huang Executive Director. Amnesty International USA




One might have thought that land theft is something that happens in places such as Brazil and Peru where logging companies and mineral prospectors drive indigenous peoples off their land while the government looks aside. In fact, in Israel it is done by the government in the occupied territories. The government is pushing a law that would legalize the seizure of Palestinian land for the building of new Jewish settlements. Haaretz in an editorial points out that this turns Israel into a criminal state that deserves sanctions. The bill would allow the state to declare private Palestinian land on which settlements or outposts were built, “innocently or at the state’s instruction” as government property, and deny its owners the right to use or hold those lands until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.

In the meantime, the illegal settlement of Amona, built on stolen Palestinian land,   has finally   been evacuated.     We link you to the update site of Haaretz. We regret that the day turned violent. The height of effrontery i.e. chutzpa was reached when a lawmaker from the rightist Habayit Hayehudi party compared the evacuation of Amona to the rape of woman.

“When someone rapes a woman it hurts. What they’re doing here now is a brutal rape. They’re going to remove innocent people from their home,” Bezalel Smotrich, who arrived at the outpost early Wednesday, told the Ynet news website.
Prometheus says innocent people my ^&&((@!

It is hard to understand why Netanyahu tweeted

President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern
border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great
idea 🇮🇱🇺🇸 5:55 PM – 28 Jan 2017

53,240 53,240 Retweets
It is as idiotic an action as can be imagined. Of course, he is
desperate to distract the public from the criminal investigations
against him. Obviously he should resign, but do not hold your

Illustration: Guess who wasn't happy with Benjamin Netanyahu's tweet on Trump and the U.S.-Mexico border wall?

Enter a caption

Illustration: Guess who wasn’t happy with Benjamin Netanyahu’s tweet on Trump and the U.S.-Mexico border wall? cartoonist Amos Biderman


site of consciousness

you can see a connectome in this image

Harvard scientists think they have pinpointed the physical source of consciousness. This is a huge breakthrough in neural science. Independent teams will, of course, need to confirm their results before we can say for sure that these three regions are the physical source of consciousness in our brains.

In the meantime, the research will hopefully lead to new treatment options for patients in comas and vegetative states, who might have otherwise healthy brains but simply can’t regain consciousness. The work has been published in Neurology.


 The Japanese space agency launched a spacecraft named Proximate Object Close Flyby with Optical Navigation (PROCYON). Alas, it blew its ion thrusters in 2014 and since then has been in a lonely orbit around the Sun. In 2015 work was found for it, making useful observations of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the same comet the Rosetta spacecraft observed for two years before ending its mission in 2016.The remote observations of the comet were essential when Rosetta itself was inside the coma. It gave values for the rate of water production of the comet and thus complemented the observations of Rosetta. The findings have been published in the February 2017 edition of The Astronomical Journal. Cheers for minicraft rehab!


‘Posing with Trump,’ Paris, November 2016; photograph by Richard Kalvar

Posing with Trump,’ Paris, November 2016; photograph by Richard Kalvar

‘Fuck’-ing Around 

Joan Acocella    February 9, 2017 Issue 

What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves

by Benjamin K. Bergen Basic Books, 271 pp., $27.99

In Praise of Profanity    by Michael Adams Oxford University Press,
253 pp., $17.95

The NYRB provides with an interesting article about swearing, profanity and bad language in general by Joan Acocella.

The article goes into considerable detail of the literature concerning profanity over the centuries. Prometheus found it interesting to learn that Jonathon Green’s Green’s Dictionary of Slang, in three volumes (2010), lists 1,740 words for sexual intercourse, 1,351 for penis, 1,180 for vagina, 634 for anus or buttocks, and 540 for defecation and urination. The Federal Communications Commission still imposes fines on broadcasters who use what it regards as profanity. Steven Pinker, in his The Stuff of Thought (2007), reprints the excellent “FCC Song,” by Eric Idle, of Monty Python:

Fuck you very much, the FCC.
Fuck you very much for fining me.
Five thousand bucks a fuck,
So I’m really out of luck.
That’s more than Heidi Fleiss was charging me.



What IF? Earth’s atmosphere is really thin compared to the radius of
the Earth. How big a hole do I need to dig before people suffocate?

—Sam Burke As usual Randall comes through with an interestinganswer.

We have not visited Zach at SMBC for a while. This cartoon is dedicated to parents.



1 thought on “Prometheus & Pandora

  1. Judy

    Delightful as usual, comforting not to be alone in horror, and I really enjoy the science parts. Sorry about your colleague!


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