Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On Space Without Research

  • Space is very big.
  • Really big.
  • Stop that.
  • The word “space” is hilarious: there’s Earth…
  • …and then there’s space.
  • 14 billion light years across and trillions of galaxies and quadrillions of stars; every single thing within this observable reality that isn’t precisely us.
  • “Space.”
  • Humans are adorable.
  • Anyway: space.
  • We have never been there.
  • We’ve sent semi-self-aware robots and dumb-as-shit tin cans into a tiny bit of space, and people (and also dogs and chimps and a cat or two) have been into the first little bit of space, but we have not been to space.
  • Not space space.
  • Space premiered 14 billion years ago to terrible ratings, but over the years the audience grew; despite running out of ideas, the thing is still on the air.
  • The story scientists are going with now is that the universe started with the Big Bang, an infinitesimally short moment of energetic expansion that occurred everywhere at once.
  • Which makes no sense at all, but is better than what the scientists used to say, which was, “However you say it happened, Your Majesty. Please don’t torture me to death.”
  • There were particles, and the particles attracted themselves to each other, and then again, and once more, and now things start spinning and accretion is beginning, and gravity becomes an issue, and the universe has its first rise in temperature, and reactions chain, and and then there were stars.
  • Let there be light.
  • But these stars were too big, and they exploded.
  • Then the whole process happened again, but with more elements floating around, and the stars (including ours) reignited; this time there were planets (including ours).
  • Those first stars might have had planets, too, but fuck ’em.
  • We have a G Class star, and got lucky with it: it is middle-aged and stable, not given to the spasms of system-sized violence of a younger or older star; maybe a bit bored, in a rut, maybe married the wrong person.
  • Our sun is a good provider.
  • It is a yellow dwarf star, and–again–that’s the one you want; every other color is terrible.
  • Black holes will eat you; brown dwarves will disappoint you; red giants will not activate your superpowers; blue moons mean you are standing alone; oranges are not stars at all, but fruit.
  • Oranges are not terrible, but they are high in sugar.
  • Besides stars and planets, there are also moons, asteroids, ringworlds, comets, clouds, Galactuses, nebulae, and the multi-system civilization of the Felis Empire.
  • And all of those things are moving incredibly fast: our own sun travels through the universe at a million billion miles per hour.
  • Without research.
  • It’s difficult to overstate space’s size.
  • Okay, I did a tiny bit of research: the most distant star we can see with the naked eye is in Cassiopeia, and it’s 16,000 light years away, which even Precarious could not drive.
  • Space is bigger than that.
  • Remember when I said it was 14 billion light years across?
  • I was wrong: the universe is 14 billion years old.
  • “But, TotD,” you interrupt, “if the universe is 14 billion years old, then it must be 14 billion years across. Speed of light and what not.”
  • And I would slap you on your plump cheek for derailing my train of thought, and I would also say, “That was the mistake I made. It turns out the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, and it’s actually 46 billion light years across.”
  • Putting aside that that fact is terrifying on an unnameable level, look at the numbers: 16,000 to 46 billion.
  • Here’s how to picture that: you can’t.
  • Human brains are ill-suited for thinking about space, but we still do.
  • On the first night of the first day that the first man walked on this planet, he looked up.
  • There was space.
  • Then he was eaten by something.
  • The second guy, however, got the third guy to keep a lookout while he looked up.
  • Space was still there, and so that second guy said, “What the fuck is that?”
  • This was the birth of Astronomy.
  • Quickly, there were advances in the field: the movement of the heavens was plotted, and not to bother if it were cloudy.
  • Until remarkably recently–within the lifetime of some Enthusiasts–whether or not you could do Astronomy depended on the weather.
  • We really are just a little baby species.
  • Our ancestors knew the stars and the night sky better than we do, though.
  • First of all, they hadn’t invented lightbulbs, so they could actually see the stars.
  • Second of all, they hadn’t invented GPS, so they needed the stars to navigate at night.
  • Third of all, they hadn’t invented literally anything, so what the fuck did they have to do other than look at the stars?
  • Early on, we noticed that several bright stars zipped through the sky at ludicrous speed each night.
  • The Greeks called them “wanderers” but they did it in Greek, and these were the planets.
  • Every single society found them, and everyone named them and made gods out of them.
  • Roman bullshit and Mayan bullshit and Chinese bullshit and Zulu bullshit: people saw those lights moving overhead and started making up stories like they couldn’t help themselves.
  • Because they couldn’t.
  • Earth was the center of the universe, obviously, because it was, just stop asking,
  • The thing is: you can make precise-enough predictions about the sky using that faulty assumption, and we remember that today as the Ptolemaic system.
  • Ptolemy’s heart was in the right place.
  • If you begin with the statement “The sun and planets revolve around earth,” than you can absolutely tell where, say, Jupiter will be on the 19th of October–hell, you can even predict eclipses–but if you plot out the yearly course of said planets, they do loop-de-loops and take weird turns; it’s so clearly moronic and wrong.
  • But until about 1000 years ago, that was how the universe went.
  • In the year 1328, a Dutch monk named Abelard Telescope invented something.
  • Stop that.
  • Did Galileo invent the telescope?
  • I seem to recall being told that in second grade.
  • As an adult, it seems more likely that a bunch of people invented the telescope.
  • Maybe Benjamin Franklin invented the telescope: he invented so many other things.
  • Sure, there would neer to be time travel involved, but I’m willing to state with conviction that Benjamin Franklin invented the telescope.
  • The telescope was a game-changing invention: we soon learned that we were not the only planet with a moon, and that Saturn had rings, and that the lady who lives across the street does not close her curtains all the way while she bathes.
  • It also gave rich guys something to put in the corner of the study.
  • For a while, people were all, “No, everything revolves around us! GRRRR!” and then they were like “Oh, who gives a shit?”
  • A few scientists got murdered by a few Popes or kings or whoever, but then again: a lot of people got murdered by Popes and kings and whoever for much dumber bullshit.
  • The past was terrible.
  • Space: we go from standing in a field looking up, to standing on a hill looking up, to realizing that climbing the hill hadn’t made much of a difference, to calculating the sky, to extending our sight, to once in a while going there just a little tiny bit; only took a couple millennia.

1 Comment

  1. Reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut. Oh, yeah. Have you ever read “Venus on the Half Shell”, by that guy who appropriated the character from Kurt Vonneguts books as his own name?(Kilgore Trout). At one time I thought that it was a SPECIAL BOOK, but got over it, but still, it’s fun like what you just wrote.

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