Can we talk about Black Holes?

Unless I’m playing a Space Game RPG with Wil or explaining candy bars to Tim Maxwell, I’m generally not thinking about our galaxy–or as I call it My Home’s Home’s Home.

So, when “scientists,” who run a website called space.com (they’re giving urls to anybody these days), casually mention that a black hole is at the center of our galaxy, I’m a bit shocked by the news. It’s similar to the sensation I feel when Scott casually mentions that Chinatown is not a great movie.

Does it mean we’re going to die soon?

Yes. Yes, it does.

I hope it happens the moment after Scott apologizes and right before I can forgive him.

But that’s a topic for another day. What I want to talk about is: someone please explain the galaxy to me. 

Does every galaxy have at its center a swirling, insatiable, indefatigable, inexorable hellstomach?

And if so, how the hell do you not worship it?

Basically, I’d like to be the soothing voice of reason that shouts in a crowded restaurant: What the hell is going on here? Why am I the only one panicking?!

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4 thoughts on “Can we talk about Black Holes?

  1. From what I know about the known universe, and numerous Discovery Channel specials, it’s believed that at the heart of every galaxy is a super-massive black hole. Much as the Earth revolves around the Sun due to its gravitational hold on us, the Milky Way swirls about due to the gravity of its dark heart. But this isn’t a reason to freak out, unless you want to cause a scene and need a reason. I am just repeating thoughts from theoretical physicists.

    The more pressing danger is the sun growing to a red giant, scorching the Earth and evaporating all of our water in the process before engulfing our planet completely. In 5,000,000,000 years or so.

  2. Kosmo is right. How does he know so much about the cosmos?

    Dan, I was going to say that the reason we don’t worship the almighty black hole at the center of our universe is because we can’t see it. Then I was going to search for an article about the scientists who are trying to take a picture of a black hole. Then I looked at your link.

    Now I’m bored.

    We have a better chance of being killed by random shit from space than surviving long enough to let the sun burns us off the planet.

    Astronomy Cast: http://www.astronomycast.com/2008/10/ep-112-death-from-the-skies-interview-with-phil-plait/

    The Milky Way:

    “The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy 100,000-120,000 light-years in diameter containing 200–400 billion stars. The galaxy is estimated to contain at least as many planets, 10 billion of which could be located in the habitable zone of their parent star[14]. Depending on its structure the entire galaxy has a rotational rate of 1 per 15 to 50 million years. The galaxy is also moving at a rate of 552 to 630 km per second depending on the relative frame of reference. It is estimated to be about 13.2 billion years old, nearly as old as the Universe. The Milky Way is part of the Local Group of galaxies.”

    For the record, Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light years away.

    One light year is 6 trillion miles.

    Earth has a diameter of 22,000 miles.

    The diameter of the Earth is 1 / 272,727,273 the distance of one light year.

    The fastest unmanned space craft traveled 157,000 mph. At that rate, it would take 4,250 years to travel 6 trillion miles.

    Recorded history began about 4,000 BC, or 6,000 years ago.

    The distance from Earth to the Sun is roughly 93,000,000 miles, or 1 Astronomical Unit (AU.)

    Voyager launched in 1977.

    It travels about about 3.6 AU per year.

    It still hasn’t left the solar system:

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-12/08/voyager-1-solar-system

    We will not get to Alpha Centauri there in our life time.

    We won’t even launch a spacecraft in our lifetime with the hopes of reaching Alpha Centauri (probably.)

    Here’s Carl Sagan singing about the Milky Way:

    Here’s what the Milky Way looks like from Earth:

    http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/stargazing-lake-malawi/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ng%2Fphotography%2Fphoto-of-the-day+%28National+Geographic+Photo+of+the+Day%29&src=delay2011pod

    Pale Blue Dot:

    Chinatown sucks. Roman Polanski couldn’t direct his way out of a paper bag.

  3. I haven’t seen Chinatown.

    I will watch it, and my opinion shall be the new law.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that most people do worship a black hole at the center of the galaxy.

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