Nuit, Nut, Nix = Mox Nix

Nut     Pluto Hubble Picture    Clyde Tombaugh

“Mox nix” derives from the German machts nichts meaning “it makes no difference.”  Yesterday the International Astronomical Union named the two newly discovered moons of Pluto Nix and Hydra.  Nyx is the Greek goddess of night, but that was nixed because there is an asteroid named Nyx.  So Nix, aka Nuit and Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky was used.  The ‘N” and ‘H’ are also the first letters of New Horizons, the spacecraft that will arrive at Pluto in 2015.

New Horizons was launched as the fastest spacecraft ever, at 10 miles per second (36,000 mph, ~0.005% the speed of light), and will further accelerate to 47,000 mph by using Jupiter’s gravity as a slingshot.  At that rate if one of the twins (Lia, of course) went to Pluto and back in 19 years, she would be about 1 second younger than Alan due to the Twin Paradox.  If the ship traveled 99% the speed of light, Lia would arrive back about 10 years younger than Alan!  Packaging this genuine fountain of youth is problematic.

Incidentally, I met Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto (in 1930), at the 1988 Stellafane Convention.

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