... but remember the universe was created for the sole exclusive use of man, according to some nomadic desert dwelling gents.
On a serious note, the cosmos never fails to astound me.
Astronomers have finally figured out just where the heck in the Universe we are – and it turns out to be the suburbs of a galactic supercluster now known as Laniakea. Galaxies don’t tend to be scattered throughout the Universe willy-nilly; they tend to bunch up into clusters, groups and superclusters. Our Local Group contains …
" but remember the universe was "
I thought you were breaking into song there!
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving,
And revolving at 900 miles an hour,
That's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour
Of the Galaxy we call the Milky Way.
Our Galaxy itself contains 100 billion stars
It's 100,000 light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, 16,000 light years thick
But out by us it's just 3,000 light years wide
We're 30,000 light years from galactic central point,
We go round every 200 million years
And our Galaxy is only one of millions and billions
In this amazing and expanding Universe
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light you know,
12 million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely it is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
Because there's bugger all down here on Earth.
My absolute favourite (From my absolute favourite author):
“It is known that there are an infinte number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.”
Logic on that doesn't quite work... Try this:
“It is known that there are an infinte number of numbers, simply because you can add 1 to any number to make another one. However, not every one of them is odd. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average number of odd numbers that exist can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the all numbers are even, and that odd numbers you run across are merely products of a deranged imagination.”
But then, I've never really been a Douglas Adams fan.
"... but remember the universe was created for the sole exclusive use of man, according to some nomadic desert dwelling gents."
Pity Harry Potter wasn't written 2000 years ago. Never mind Mary, I'll worship Hermione thanks. Though I'm not sure a glasses wearing kid fits the prophet mold but then neither really does a ranting carpenters son or a bigamous paedo so beggars etc....
I am sorry, but mocking religious beliefs in commentard section of an article about astronomy is as cheap as it gets. If somebody had dragged their religion into it in the first place, maybe, but nobody did except you.
"A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind." is a cool including statement. He could have said some religious thing, he didn't. He could have made in American only, he didn't. It made us in the rest of the world able to say "We have been too the moon." and brought the world a little closer together.
"I see no god." is belittling and served as nothing else as to make me think less of mankind.
Okay, maybe it wasn't the friendliest thing to say but it's not exactly 'cheap'. I mean, astronomy has given us a view far broader and grander than anything imagined by the bronze/iron age writers of the Bible.
There are two big scientific revelations that have served to put humans in our place: the age of the Earth and the size of the Universe it fits into. We now know (objections of YE Creationists aside) that the Earth is ~4.5b years old and the Universe is so unimaginably vast that the laws of physics limit how much of it we can ever see.
Our existence is so fleeting and our share of the universe so miniscule that many of our grand beliefs in the importance of humanity have had to be scaled down to better fit the infinitesimal stage that our lives play out on.
In this new view of the universe and our place in it, the idea of a personal God who created the universe for us is, frankly, rather ill-fitting. The continued existence of that belief is a result of its long heritage in the human psyche.
Some people, however, get scared by the implications. How can our lives matter if they are so tiny? How is our existence even possible unless it is a random chance? To those people, the only answer is double-down on god.
I'm not criticising anyone's beliefs but astronomy is very relevant to religion and this can be seen in the way more fundamental believers argue against things like the big bang and the evolution of stars. They do this because they are unwilling to accept the broader and longer view of the universe that astronomy provides.
Of course, there are many non-fundamentalist believers who accept - at least casually - the idea of an old, infinitely vast universe and the naturalistic evolution of humanity in a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny corner of that universe.
Those 'moderate' or 'mainstream' believers still cleave to their comforting belief in a personal god who set this whole amazing show in motion and - 13 billion years later, once the universe was in a fit state - saw to it that humans would receive a special, immortal and supernatural component to supplement the physical matter of our evolved bodies so that we could survive our own deaths and continue on in a non-physical existence outside of space and time.
The list of questions that belief raises is long but the final argument will be "where did the universe come from then!?".
That's a thorny one and likely moves outside of science and into philosophy, but even if one proves without doubt that the universe was created by some intelligent agent, it simply does not follow that said agent would necessarily not only know of our existence (it a big universe!) but actually care what we do or say and it doesn't follow that that creator of that universe must have had any hand at all in creating humans, much less the notion that we have been given immortal souls as some kind of heavenly door-pass.
It certainly doesn't follow that such a god would pause the laws of physics selectively to benefit this person or that (or their football team) but not some other, less pious, individual.
I can accept the possibility of a god that set the universe in motion but only if the person suggesting it is willing to agree that such a god does not automatically have the qualities that any religious person would worship.
You have to think that those nomads had the same thought as you - astounded by the immensity of their surroundings. Their explanation was that it was created in detail and fully formed - because that's all they knew: if you want a hut someone has to build it. we on the other hand have worked out some of the physics involved - so we can see how the building occurs on its own.
However, we don't actually know why the rules of physics are as they are or properly how they link up - so in that sense we are little further on. If there were a conciousness somewhere that could define how the rules of physuics work, how would we identify that?
Those of a scientific bent see the universe and think it's pretty, stunning, etc. but there's nothing in our evolution that drives those thoughts. Why don't we see hubble images and think "crikey, that's really ugly"?
Big bang scientists and fundamentalists do at least agree on some of the order: void, light, earth.
Sadly that's what makes it all the remarkable. Huge, mind-f**king amount of exciting stuff out there to find and look at, yet the idiots jacking-off over their bits of metal that make bang-bang noises just seem intent in trying to keep the human race a smidge below the mental capacity of pond scum.
> Sadly that's what makes it all the remarkable. Huge, mind-f**king amount of exciting stuff out there to find and look at, yet the idiots jacking-off over their bits of metal that make bang-bang noises just seem intent in trying to keep the human race a smidge below the mental capacity of pond scum.
I can't second that enough.
It turns out that the Milky Way is in the ‘burbs of the Laniakea supercluster, which is 500 million light years in diameter and contains the mass of a hundred quadrillion suns in 100,000 galaxies.
Thanks for this topic.
I find it fascinating, but at the same time, completely incomprehensible.
I have no frame of reference into which I can comfortably fit "a hundred quadrillion suns", and make it possible for me to visualise.
A complete failure of imagination, I just don't have the resources.
I thought you were out by a fair bit, I made it 3.334x10^^17 molecules in 1/100th of a cubic mm. 100 quadrillion is 10^^20. Er, no, quadrillion is 10^^15 isn't it, I was thinking 10^^18 which is a quintillion. So it's actually 3.334x10^^14. Was that the number you first thought of?
18g (or cc) of water gives 6.022 x 10^^23 molecules, so divide by 18,000*100,000.
Fun with chemistry again after 33 years, yay!
>A hundred quadrillion is about* a third of the number of water molecules in one-hundredth of a cubic millimetre of water. Does that help?
Thank you for your effort, but... I've never seen a molecule of water. Could you possibly scale that up to 'grains of sand in X number of swimming pools', or another other Reg-approved unit of volume?
Does this make Earth/humankind some kind of galactic homeopathy and if so, what are we the treatment for?
Additional musing for Friday: If so, homeopathic practitioners might be the ultimate genocidal warmongers, on the basis that the less of us there are left, the more effective we are.
I do wish peeps would use a proper numbering system!! >:(
1. (Mathematics) (in Britain) the number represented as one followed by 24 zeros (1024). US and Canadian word: septillion
2. (Mathematics) (in the US and Canada) the number represented as one followed by 15 zeros
Here's one way of trying to visualise it. It uses the fact that a million is 100 times 100 times 100, which should be easy to visualise as a cube containing a million little cubes.
Imagine a grain of sugar, one cubic millimetre, is the sun. (Okay, it's the wrong shape, but nevermind.)
A thousand suns make a sugarlump, one cubic centimetre.
A billion suns make a cubic metre.
A quadrillion suns make a cube that's 100 metres along each edge.
100 quadrillion suns make a ten-by-ten square of those giant sugarlumps.
That's a square kilometre of cubic millimetre grains of sugar, 100 metres high.
The mass of the sun is about 330,000 times the mass of the earth, which itself is nearly six million million million million kilograms. A cubic millimetre of sugar has a mass of about 1.6 mg. So, the earth has a mass of 3.75 thousand million million million million grains of sugar, and the sun has a mass of 1.24 thousand million million million million million grains of sugar. So now you've just got to visualise that, and you're done.
The flaw in your visualization is that you're compacting all the suns together, which does not represent the density of stars in Laniakea.
Spread out the 100 quadrillion 1x1mm sugar grain stars so that they're each 3,000 kilometers apart, and there you go! A perfect super-shrunk visualization of a supercluster!
SETI Galactic Cop Radio Scanner:
"Galactic core? We have a 246, repeat 246 around some lousy G Star. Also 207 and possibly 273A. Multiple victims and new asteroid belts."
"Not again. Same customer as last month?"
"Yeah, dude calls himself 'Vader'. Believes in some mythical crap called "Force". Totally crazy. Some old civilization I talked to saw him flyby in a pimped-out technological terror. I'm going after him. Over."
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