Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dark Side of the Moon

The NY Times reports:
In my article last week about the impending demise of Ebb and Flow, I noted, “Unfortunately, since the action will happen on the dark side of the Moon, there will be nothing for earthlings to see.”

About a gazillion people, including Robert Kirshner, a Harvard astronomy professor, wrote in to ask, “Didn’t you mean to write ‘far side’ and not ‘dark side’?”

The more annoyed wrote: “Dark Side of the Moon??? Come on now. You know that is not correct! You completely blew a potential teaching moment, to educate the public that the **FAR** side of the Moon is **NOT** dark! Instead you perpetuated yet another scientific misconception. No wonder we are facing a crisis in science literacy in the U.S. The New York Times can and should do better!”

Except I really meant, “dark side” ­ — the side of the Moon facing away from the Sun.
I say that the dark side is a legitimate term for the far side. Those astronomers are parodies of pedantic professors. The far side was called dark because we knew so little about it. As we know now, it even looks a lot different from the near side.

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