People are, as any sociologist will agree, influenced by popular culture, many of the ideas and beliefs that we hold having their roots in something that we have seen or heard. There is, for example, no evidence whatsoever that Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a rivalry of any kind, let alone a deadly one, there being a good bit of archival evidence to the contrary.

Richard III as has been recently found out was little to nothing like how he as been portrayed and thought of in popular culture, entirely due to a centuries old smear campaign started by Shakespeare with his ‘historical’ play, written during the reign of Elizabeth I, a granddaughter of Henry VII who wrenched the crown from Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field; the play basically being a propaganda piece to legitimate the Tudor claim to the throne which was more than a little dubious when it was first obtained. Another example of such inaccuracy going into general use, is the phrase dark side of the Moon popularized by the British rock legends Pink Floyd in 1973.

The (slightly) lighter side

While a common and inaccurate assumption, it is widely thought the section of the moon that faces away from Earth is dark and cold. A notion which makes many scientists groan in dismay. The fact of the matter is that because the moon follows the orbit of Earth around the sun, it has a similar process of shifting from day and night with some parts being light and some other parts being dark depending on the position of the orbit.

A primary difference in the day span between the Earth and the moon is speed, the Earth rotating much faster. How much faster? A full rotation of the moon takes 29 days, roughly the same amount of time it takes it to orbit the sun. Basically this means that the moon moves more or less in unison with the Earth in terms of its rotation. A new moon, for example, has nothing to do with the earth ‘getting in the way’ of the moon. It is actually quite the opposite case with the moon being between the Earth and the sun, the ‘dark side’ lit up by direct sunlight. This is an easy mistake to fix, simply by referring to the side that we can see from Earth as the ‘near side’, because everything needs to be about us, and the side that we cannot and will not see from any point on Earth.

What is out there on the dark side of the moon

Inaccurate as it might be, the popular term ‘dark side’ cannot help but conjure some foreboding images. Something that George Lucas was likely banking on when coming up with the name for the negative force in the Star Wars saga. Though, as with most things in life, it simply does not live up to the hype. Despite being the portion of the moon that faces cold dark space except for a few days a month, the ‘far side’ of the moon look much like the rest of it which is more familiar to us. As according to the photographs which have been taken from the ‘far side’, it is fairly safe to say that if the sections were reversed and the ‘far side’ were the ‘near side’ the view from Earth, while not identical, would be fairly similar.

One of the largest differences, both literally and figuratively, would be the presence of the South Pole-Aitken basin, which is the largest crater yet to be discovered in the known solar system and much larger than those on the nearside. Basically the ‘Man In the Moon’ would be yawning.

Can’t stop the ‘music’!

Adding to the mystique and fear surrounding the ‘far side’, NASA recently revealed that the Apollo astronauts heard strange whistling sounds, referred to as ‘music’, as they passed the ‘far side’ while in orbit around the moon. Not, in fact, from aliens, the sounds were basically static caused by interference happening between the VHF radios on the different vehicles being used for the trip.

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Trevor McNeil
Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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