Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Faster Than The World?

**Sigh...** FTTW is officially on hiatus and it's Tuesday, Pirate Day:( I posted my column on the BLOG , but decided to just go ahead and cross-post it here, today. I had just submitted this column hours before the decision was made to shut down for the summer. Afterward, I added 5 sentences and changed the title, just because I was thinking FASTER THAN THE WORLD? all day.

The QUEEN’S TOES got me to thinking, and I occasionally do the backwoods equivalent of her bobbing around in the ocean, contemplating our place and significance in the universe. Especially during the warmer deer seasons, I like to find an inviting patch of ground, lay on my back, grab a double handful of earth and hang on for the ride as we spin like a top at 1,038 MPH.

Actually, at above the 45th parallel, the Earth’s surface is only spinning at slightly less than 500 MPH, but if that’s not fast enough for you, we are also orbiting our warm, yellow Sun at around 65,000 MPH. Hang on for the ride. If that’s still not enough, imagine that in addition to spinning on an axis and rotating around the sun, our solar system is also rotating within our galaxy and our galaxy is also motoring through the universe. Faster than the world.

Now, there are MANY ways to calculate the speed at which we are ultimately moving through the universe as a galaxy, but it gets messy as our velocity becomes relativistic at this point. That is to say it is relative to the object you measure our velocity from. Pick any other galaxy and we are moving away from it at a velocity that differs from the velocity at which we are moving away from any other galaxy. Faster than the world.

So, to simplify things, since I’m lying on my back in the woods, trying to be all Zen and shit, I can imagine the speed at which we are racing toward the Great Attractor-that mystical THING we used to call the New Supergalactic Center, that all galaxies in our region of space are speeding toward. We are zipping along toward our ultimate destiny at a cool 1.3 trillion MPH. Lay down wherever you are, grab a handful of ground and realize you’re hauling the mail at 1.3 TRILLION MPH right now. Faster than the world.

It’s really not that hard to find your Quan at that speed, surprisingly. It’s still peaceful and we are still tiny and insignificant. And sometime in our future; around 15 billion years from now, we will arrive at the center of mass of the Great Attractor, the trip will be over and it will be time to get up off the ground and walk out of the woods. Faster than the world.

In the meantime, I’m still at sea, still motoring along at 5 knots and wishing I was in the woods going a trillion miles an hour faster. Faster than the world.
ps. The author acknowledges the fact that most of you except for Blondie maybe, have never heard of, or give a shit about the Supergalactic Center, but is the center of gravity and mass for this region of space; densely packed with stars and interstellar matter, and due to it's gravitational pull everything in this region of space is inevitably heading in that direction. Think of the universe as a frothy, bubbling milkshake, filled with chunks of ice cream in various stages of melting. The supergalactic center would be one of those chunks. Can you think of any better way to view the universe than as an ice cold, chocolate milkshake? I cannot.

You may ask why should I care? What useful purpose can this knowledge serve? I give you this.

Oh, and those of you that still don't give a shit about all this-the above sign is for you;)


LL said...


I understand astronomy and physics too.......

The Pirate said...

I'd be willing to bet you understand it WAY better than I, since it's all that math stuff that I just cannot seem to get my head around, but I didn't know you had an interest!

It just doesn't seem like anybody who comments here has any interest in space, but I happen to love it and I would love nothing more than to hear everyone feels the same. I can talk about this shit all day long-ask PW or mr bud:)

Are you a Trekkie, too??

Anonymous said...

Personally me never did get physics , math, and stuff like that. BUT, it would be something to travel through the solar system at warp speed. IF me could get over the impossible fear of flying me has. LOL.

But thinking of the universe as a ice cold , CHOCOLATE milkshake.?? OH YEA. No better way to think of it...... LOL LOL

Queen of Dysfunction said...

Ok, first of all I love the photo. I think I've seen that guy on Haight.

Secondly, you and Blondie have super huge brains that are much too much for my puny teaspoon of grey matter.

The Pirate said...

My post was not a comment on the lack of brain cells of my readers, only that I don't have any space nerd readers except for Blondie(and LL, now that I stand corrected).

Anyway, knowing the difference between a pulsar and a burster, or that Scotty downloaded himself into a pattern buffer for 75 years in order to survive crashing on an alien artifact that later swallowed Enterprise D does not an Einstein make. (Scotty, you ARE the man)

Also, what that guy in the picture originally wrote is even funnier..