Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Know Something the Writers on 'Jeopardy' Don't Know

'Jeopardy' got an answer wrong and I'm happy to bore you with the right one.

I was watching the 'Jeopardy' show from Febuary 16, 2009, yesterday. Yes, I'm a little behind - so what? This was the clue: "Also the title of one of the best-selling albums of all time, it was first seen in Russian photos taken in 1959."

What is "The Dark Side of the Moon?"


While it is true that Pink Floyd's 1973 album "The Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the best selling albums of all time (I own a copy), and it is true that a Russian camera probe swung around the moon in 1959, it is not true that the dark side of the moon was first seen by human eyes or cameras in 1959. The dark side has always been visible to us on Earth.

The moon is orbit locked around Earth - it presents the same side to us at all times. The moon revolves around the Earth so at any given time, 50% of the moon is illuminated by the sun and 50% is dark. That 50% moves because the moon is constantly in motion even though the same half of the moon always faces Earth. Measured in days, the dark side and the light side swap positions 1/28th or 3.5% every day. We see that shift as the phases of the moon.

If you want to see the dark side of the moon, just look to the sky. Unless it's a full moon, where the side facing Earth is fully illuminated, you will see at least a sliver of the dark side. During a new moon, you'll see ALL of the dark side, but it's sometimes tough to make out details because it's, you know, DARK.

So, what did 'Jeopardy' do wrong? They confused dark and far. That Russian camera probe was actually notable for first photographing the FAR side of the moon, not the dark side. Perhaps we can blame Pink Floyd for perpetuating a misnomer. Maybe the song and album should have been "The FAR Side of the Moon." It doesn't matter. All that matters is I'M RIGHT and THEY'RE WRONG!

No comments:

Post a Comment