Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's All Relative

In what might quite possibly be the shortest, driest, uninteresting science article, I found a quote that most of you might find amusing. Article here.

The article is about black holes, and how a group of scientists studied a black hole. What they don't mention in the article is that as you go faster, time actually slows down. So, for them to say that it would take 200,000 years to cross 'into' a black hole - what they don't say is that the time referenced is by our standards. If you were actually to plunge into a black hole, to you, it would take only a matter of seconds. Someone else would only perceive you to teeter on the edge of the black hole for 200,000 years before they saw you fall in.

I'll have to explain the physics behind that at a later date. And no, Nort, this is nothing like the pylon discussion. Anyway, the article made mention that the black hole that they were studying was only 47 million light years away from earth, and they cited this as being "relatively close in cosmic terms."

And in the grand scheme of things, they are right. That is kinda close to earth. But to put it in perspective, 47 light years is only 282 trillion miles away.


If you traveled the speed of light, it would take you 47 years to get there. Light travels at 186,000 miles per SECOND. That's a mere 679,616,629 miles per hour. In terms that you can relate to... if you drove a nominal 60 miles per hour, it would only take you 4.7 trillion years to get there. That's a longer amount of time than the universe has been around for. If you drove like Nort, and averaged 90 miles per hour, you'd cut the trip down to 3.1333 trillion years.

That's a long f*cking time. And a long f*cking way from here. But it's just down the block, when talking about distance in terms of the universe. There are things out there that are around 10-13 billion light years away from us ( depending on the age of the universe - and that's a whole 'nother post ). That object, a quasar filled galaxy, actually dates back to when the universe was only 750 million years old (the universe is estimated at 13-18 billion years old now). For comparison, the quasar galaxy measures in at a mere 2,000 light years wide. The Milky Way is around 100,000 light years across.

That ALOT of empty space out there. Kinda puts our little world here in perspective. I just thought I'd leave you with that nice thought of how insignificant we really are in this universe.


And if that thought doesn't make you feel insignificant... look at this picture. Click on it to see a larger version. Each one of those dots are galaxies. The big ones are just closer. Each galaxy has maybe 100 billion stars ( our sun is an average star, there are bigger one, and smaller ones ). There are estimates that there are maybe 200 billion galaxies in the universe. So next time your boss is giving you a hard time, explain all this to them. Tell them the TPS reports really don't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

As Carl Sagan said, "Seems like it'd be an awful waste of space if we're the only ones here to enjoy it."


At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Nort said...

SEE?!? Waukesha isn't all that far away!!!

And yes, I know that the theory of relativity doesn't come close to the pylon discussion.

And no, I don't average 90 mph everywhere I go.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger AlRo said...

Bring on the C value equalling Cochrane, add it to the theory of relativity where Mass is no longer a constant, as subspace bends around an object - and gimme warp-drive scotty!!

Oh man - that showed my Trek-Geek side WAY TOO MUCH..

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Will said...

I don't feel so bad. I may be addicted to midget porn but at least I'm not an utter nerd-fest like you jagoffs.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Party Girl said...

Don't listen to Will. The utter dorkness of this post did something for me in my fun parts.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Nick said...

There's actually been a lot of interesting black hole news lately. There has been a articles talking about how they're able to prove the existance of an event horizon now. The event horizon is the point of no return... that if you cross... you will no longer be able to escape the gravitational pull. They were able to "see" the event horizon by comparing different object with high gravitational fields. They compared nuetron stars (highly dense stars that actually have a surface) with suspected black holes (which have no surface). The gasses being pulled into the nuetron star actually accumulated on the surface, and later exploded with the force of many hydrogen bombs. The gasses pulled into the black hole disappeared completely.

There was also this cool article talking about discovery of black holes that fit into a new classification, that until now was only theoretical.

And then there was this one talking about how dark matter (if it even exists) is causing the milky way to warp like a vinyl records left in the sun.

Cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory has always been a passing interest of mine... even if I only understand a fraction of a percent of it.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger ptg said...

you have way too much time on your hands.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Will said...

You see?!?! You see?!?! Utter nerd-fest!!1!

Now leave me alone while I invade France with horse archers and militia until they are wiped from this land!

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Kuflax said...

I took an interesting class once that the professor held the argument that dark matter was just a poor attempt at an answer to what else is out in the universe. He thought that dark energy was the next obstacle in our quest towards the TOE (theory of everything) - and I kinda like that line of thinking.

Or, as I've quoted before, "Maybe it's just turtles all the way down."

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Nick said...

Dark matter has always left me unimpressed as well. It's a lazy man's excuse to not knowing the answer to a question... but its a damn popular excuse when you read a lot about this stuff.

Actually... quantumn physics bothers the hell out of me in general... and I think that M-Theory (string theory on steroids) has a good chance to explain away some of the parts of quantum physics that bug me. Of course... wrapping my brain around any of it is hard enough.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger AlRo said...

BWAHAHAH.. : Will - you kill me !!!

Midget porn rocks!


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