Response paper #3 Mercury

02/07/2011

 

The geological feature on Mercury which intrigues me most is the scarps which were caused by the core of the planet shrinking as it cooled. The idea of a planet doing something like this, as compared to a rotting apple skin which wrinkles as the flesh beneath it shrinks down, is fascinating. It gives me a different idea of planets than I had before.  Also intriguing about Mercury the planet is the idea that it possibly once used to be much larger, but was reduced due to a large impact, now seen as the Caloris Basin, which likely happened during the period of Heavy Bombardment. Also fascinating is the fact that it still has a magnetic field despite the core being so small and presumably having a solid, rather than molten core (due to this size and cooling factor with having no atmosphere). This would seem to say that in fact, the core is NOT solid, but is still molten. But why and how? Perhaps due to tidal effects?

The fact that this planet goes along with the winged messenger Mercury seems somewhat inappropriate. It rotates very slowly (at least compared to Earth), so it is not at all quick as he is. However, in that things can be described as “mercurial” when they are odd, flighty, or capable of unpredictable mood-swings or instability, the orbit of the planet Mercury could be considered fitting because it has a very eccentric orbit. The fact that it has a resonance with the Sun also helps in making the temperatures on the planet fluctuate drastically, which again, could go with the idea of mercurial as we use it as an adjective.

The music which Holst composed for Mercury is more fitting, again, with the namesake than the planet itself. The flightiness of the messenger is evident in the flute trills. The almost plucked sound of the rhythm keeps up an image in my head of a bird flitting around through the clouds, which could easily be replaced with a human-shaped messenger with wings on his shoes. This piece is much shorter than the other two we’ve heard so far, which could have something to do with the idea of quickness or brevity that goes along with the messenger of the gods. However, the music doesn’t seem to travel anywhere. Is this saying something about Mercury’s delivery skills?

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