Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Solar System Might Be "Undigested Sweetcorn"
Tipped to us by a reader, we found a story that begins with a headline that strikes us as very absurd, in the philosophical sense.
“Contemplating the scale of the universe makes a mockery of household chores” it begins, with the subhead: “News that the galaxy Andromeda is eating stars makes it hard to care about putting out the rubbish.”
We love stories like this, because they affirm the absurd perspective again. It seems ridiculous to worry or fret over much of anything that happens on this planet when you think about the bigger picture. Of course, being soft and emotional animals, we can’t help ourselves most of the time. It doesn’t help that we live on a planet full of people who take everything very seriously.
For instance, the wife yesterday was quite upset that somehow our daughter’s favorite pants got bleached out in a few spots. She came into our study and declared: “I am so pissed off about the laundry.” As we were feeling very absurd at that moment, since were noodling around on this blog – which we quickly covered up lest we blow Inigo’s cover - we looked at her like she was mad.
Then we took on the sympathetic role and she proceeded to tell us the story. After she left, we wondered again how little sense it made to worry at all about such things. Really, what is the point? The very fact we are here at all is a complete and happy accident. Just being alive is really the key joy, and ought to be.
Anyway, this a snippet from the story:
“…a group of astronomers has decided that the Andromeda galaxy is expanding by "eating" stars from neighbouring galaxies. Having studied Andromeda's outskirts in great detail, they discovered the fringes contained "remnants of dwarf galaxies".
It took me a couple of reads to establish that Andromeda wasn't literally chewing its way through the universe like a giant intergalactic Pac-Man, and that the "remnants of dwarf galaxies" were living stars, not the immense galactic stools I'd envisaged. That was what had really frightened me: the notion that our entire solar system might be nothing more than a chunk of undigested sweetcorn in some turgid celestial bowel movement; that maybe black holes are actually almighty cosmological sphincters, squeezing solid waste into our dimension. What if the entire universe as we know it is essentially one big festival toilet?”
A great read, you’ll find the whole thing here.
Posted by Inigo Montoya at 9:29 AM