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Monday, 25 April 2011

the milky way

  Having recently become a devotee of the Professor Brian Cox religion (yes, I caught on a bit late) I have decided to attribute some of my time to writing a post on our home galaxy. Though this stretches the definition of the word "world" a little, I figure that since we can only ever really comprehend our own galaxy conceptually - as the act of looking at it is a bit like trying to look at your own face without a mirror - I'd take a gamble on this one.

  In it's favour, the Milky Way houses our solar system and some 200 - 400 billion stars and whatever those individual stars entail - a fact which is arguably awesome in the original sense of the word. However, to my mind, this is possibly the fullest extent of the benefits of the Milky Way as everything after that (and it is a lot in all fairness) seems to verge on the negative.

 The first fact is that there is a supermassive blackhole at the center of it. Though this may somehow be the reason that the galaxy turns at all, it's a bit like God decided in all his worldly wisdom to put a giant, perpetually flushing toilet in the middle of an all-you-can-eat floating buffet/pool party - it seems neither safe nor hygienic.

  Secondly is the notion that whilst the majority of galaxies are flying apart from each other, the Andromeda galaxy and our own are on a direct collision course, effective in about three billion years or so. Now I hardly expect to be alive by this point and apparently the Sun will have swollen and blistered the face of the Earth, but one hopes that some clever people will have managed to scrape a living, floating around Proxima Centauri. Imagine then that all those clever developments become effectively null and void when a vast sweep of galactic arm comes tearing through the neighborhood, undoing all the good work. It's a little disconcerting.

  To my mind, the Milky Way is the best party around but turning up means you're dead: The punch is spiked with cyanide, the pineapple and cheese on sticks is explosive and all the strippers are trained assassins.

  Overall I rate the Milky Way on the universal percentage scale as being a 42%

(all photos nicked from google)

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