Day five. Been keeping myself busy - reading, walking around to get some exercise, writing this blog. All polluted by occassional bursts of Women Behind Bars and Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer. I really do have bad taste in entertainment video and I fear that its starting to do mischief to my frame of mind. This is the kind of crap I watched when I was in the hospital last fall. When you're laid up, your pity account is replenished quickly and it's hard to judge yourself harshly when everybody else is doing their best to let you out of jail free. But this time I can lay no claim on a wellspring of well wishing. Olga has been busy at work all week. She lost patience with me before the shutdown started. So I at least need to find a less sleazy topic for today's blog.
DWI for Cosmos - Galaxies, like people, are prone to errors in judgement. Fun-loving clusters of stars and interstellar gasses, they get bored as they expand relentlessly away from the original site of the big boom. Matter of fact, the big boom was probably the last thing they can recall that was actually fun! The original new year's party! So maybe, in search of a little variety, the universe's galactic members are reaching for the cosmic bottle, causing them to drift off course and hurtle towards one another. We have a solution for this behavior on earth. God will have to suspend some licenses and stall some galaxies, Which leaves them sitting ducks for law-abiding galaxies just going about their predestined path.
Signage - The wide expanses between galaxies are not well marked. Like maps in rural areas of the US without cellular Internet access, travelers are left with hunches like "straight until you pass the tree, left until the red barn with a horse, right until the house." That's more than you'll get in outer space. And galaxies aren't known to have directional aptitude aside from what they've been given by their creator, who seems satisfied to start the top spinning and leave it be. Why not design and build an inter-spatial sign system like what Ike did when we built the inter-state highway system? Only problem then is teaching galaxies to read it and take heed.
National Geographic handed me a wonderful gift this morning, though perhaps more of a wake-up call to civilization at large. Turns out the Milky Way (galaxy, not candy bar) could "crash" into another galaxy way sooner than we thought. It would have to be WAY sooner than I thought, because I was clueless to the threat's existence, much less its imminence. Sounds pretty bad, though. Here's how National Geographic put it:
"At some point, our Milky Way galaxy is going to experience a horrible, unheralded cataclysm the likes of which our puny brains can barely comprehend."
Damn. There's more:
"Stars will crash into one-another, planets will be left broken and smoldering—if they aren’t outright vaporized—and nothing will ever be the same."
This sounds like a George Lucas wet dream. And no need for hired guns from the empire to do the dirty work. This is strictly the work of God - kind of like he or she finally got fed up with our stewardship of creation and flipped the Monopoly game across the room in disgust.
Here's the twist. We (well, somebody because "we" definitely doesn't include "me" here) always knew that we were in store for a bracing collision with the Andromeda galaxy. Problem is, there's another galaxy on a treacherous path, one that we'll cross almost four times quicker.
In two billion years.
But don't start resting easy! The theme of the National Geographic article is that, in spite of all our current efforts to shorten the Earth's natural lifespan, there might actually be some people still hanging around in two billion years. I know it sounds unlikely now but we may actually survive this lapse into insanity. Even if we do look back with regret and a hint of embarassment.
But what can we do to avoid the catastrophic event that awaits us in a mere seven billion years?
Won't End Well
Big Re-Bang - Like this galaxy bumper car prediction, we also know that the post-Band expansion of the universe will gradually come to a stop. That's a bummer, because, like a clown shot straight up out of a cannon, a time will come when gravity reasserts itself, causing the jester to plunge earthward, hopefully with no net. Works the same way for the Big Bang - when last call comes, things start to contract. I predict that this could all happen before the imminent galactic collision, diverting the galaxies from their collision. And creating a whole new set of problems.