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148 comments

Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (2, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930797)

It takes light about a second to make a roundtrip from the Earth to the Moon. It takes 8 minutes for light from the Sun to reach the Earth. Light can travel around the Earth 7 times in 1 second.

While it may seem really fast, when broken down into comprehendable units, light is not really that fast. Sure, it's faster than anything else, but that just means that everything else is pretty slow too.

So this new nebula is 40 light years across. That's only 10 times the distance from the Earth to our second-closest star. It's like comparing the distance of the Earth to the Sun vs Pluto to the Sun. It may seem intractable, but it's really not that big.

Re:Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (1, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930829)

So this new nebula is 40 light years across.

No, it's 80 light years across. I don't expect anybody here to RTFA, but at least you could read the summary!

Re:Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (1)

dshaw858 (828072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930837)

So this new nebula is 40 light years across. That's only 10 times the distance from the Earth to our second-closest star. It's like comparing the distance of the Earth to the Sun vs Pluto to the Sun. It may seem intractable, but it's really not that big.

Well, compared to the vast darkness that stretches between different galaxies, and galaxy clusters... well, yes, it's pretty close in the grand scheme of things.

- dshaw

Err.... (4, Interesting)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930841)

You've not really made a clear comparison, as you have compared a measurement involving lightyears (the distance from Earth to Proxima Centauri) to another measurement involving lightyears (the length of the nebula). It would be like comparing an apple to a pea by saying that an orange is about the same size as an apple. You haven't really said anything...

So you've only given the appearance of an insightful comment... though I'm sure you'll hit +5 in no time.

Then again... (5, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930855)

Maybe that's why he calls himself "BadAnalogyGuy".

Re:Err.... (1)

gold23 (44621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931096)

You obviously were not paying attention to the GP poster's nick.

Re:Err.... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931106)

"You obviously were not paying attention to the GP poster's nick."

I noticed his nick right after I submitted.

Apples and peas (1)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932902)

Apples and peas are about the same size when the context includes the 18-wheeler about to run over them in the middle of the road.

It's the roadkill theory of relativity.

The most familiar example, for many of us, is the nearly identical appearance of prairie dogs and squirrels, post-impact, on country roads.

Re:Apples and peas (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933962)

They were pretty much identical in appearance before the semi made them 2D, give or take a big fuzzy tail.

The Moon is a bit farther away than that! (1)

Bob Hearn (61879) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930956)

A round trip to the moon takes light more like 3 seconds, actually.

Re:The Moon is a bit farther away than that! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931114)

Where's that from though? If it is from the edge of the atmosphere as compared with the center of the Earth I'd say the numbers would be slightly different. Although if you were to say how long it REALLY took light to make the trip it would be even longer as it travels faster through a vacumn then air, and even faster through air then solids, and there's no way it's penetrating the crust of the Earth at all, so it would actually take forever to make a round trip.

Re:The Moon is a bit farther away than that! (2, Informative)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931565)

The speed of light in air is only marginally less than in a vacumn (refractive index of air at sea level: 1.0002926, says wikipedia) and the atmosphere drops in pressure very rapidly on a lunar scale. The exosphere starts at, at most 1000km from the earth's surface, and that's the "beginning of the end" of the atmosphere. The moon is around 400000km away. The light is travelling through the atmosphere for only 0.25% of its journey. The difference in light time from the surface of the earth and the exosphere would be a tiny fraction of a second.

Not insightful... (1)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931016)

Terms like "fast", "slow", or "big" are comparative. They don't mean anything without having a point of reference to compare to. Okay, so everything is slow compared to light, but just saying "light is slow" doesn't mean anything. Compared to speeds of everyday experience light is pretty damn fast. Protons can be considered huge or tiny depending on what you compare them to. Stars can also be considered huge or tiny.

Re:Not insightful... (1)

slashjunkie (800216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931553)

Terms like "fast", "slow", or "big" are comparative.

Actually, "fast", "slow", and "big" are adjectives. "Faster", "slower" and "bigger" are comparatives.

Re:Not insightful... (1)

martinultima (832468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931866)

Either way, however, qualitative adjectives still do require a frame of reference (or whatever the scientific term is) – for something to be considered "big", for example, there would still be an implied "normal" size, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. Unless it's given in absolute, quantitative units, it's relative to something.

Re:Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (5, Interesting)

themysteryman73 (771100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931120)

The fact is, it doesn't matter how big it is compared to our second-closest star, they're not comparing it to anything, they're saying that they've discovered something new. Noone's ever seen a nebula of this shape before and that's what this story's about. Well, that and the large, strong magnetic field at the centre of the galaxy.

According to the story, the magnetic field has energy equivalent to 1,000 supernovae, although it's overall magnetic field is 1,000 times weaker than the sun. Therefore this magnetic field must cover an immense volume, if the sun was as powerful as a supernovae (which it's not, so think even larger than this figure...), then that would mean that this magnetic field is coming from a volume 1,000,000 times larger than the sun (something like that anyway, it sounds pretty good :P). Sure there's much, much bigger things in the universe, but, as already stated by others, you can't just say "oh, it's so big!" that's all relative. So, yeh, I could say that it's a really big thing and be shot down by someone telling me it's not so big, or I could give you a figure.

A magnetic field in the middle of the galaxy over 1,000,000 times the volume of the sun. That's big :P

Re:Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (5, Interesting)

duffel (779835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931406)

While it may seem really fast, when broken down into comprehendable units, light is not really that fast


You can't think of something incomprehensibly fast in terms of something incomprehensibly large and say you understand it.

If anything, the fact that it takes a measurable amount of time to traverse the earth-moon distance by something so fast it seems instantaneous to us is just an indication of how far the moon really is away. (385000 km, about ten times further than the circumference of the earth.)

And the circumference of the earth is a bloody long way. 40000 km. If you were to try walking this distance, it would take you more than a year of continuous walking (no sleep)

As said, the moon is about ten times further away than that, 385000 km, about ten years of walking.

The sun is one astronomical unit away. (150 Million kilometers) 4280 years of walking. You'd have to have started walking about the time the first pyramid was built to get there by today.

The nearest star to the sun is just over 4 light years away (40 Million Million km) One thousand million years of walking. I'm running out of timescales to compare this to now, because human experience doesn't date anywhere near as far back. This timescale now compares roughly to the age of life on earth, and even the age of the earth itself is only about four times as large.

The nebula in the article is about ten times that size. Ten thousand million years of walking. If you wanted to walk that distance, you'd have to start at a time where neither earth nor sun existed, or would exist for billions of years. The solar system around that time would probably be little more than a localised gravitational aggregation of spinning gas.

You're right that one could keep going for quite a lot longer. Once one starts considering the distances in the universe, you can think of them only in numbers, they're so huge. The upshot of this is that in a universe where all mayor distances are unimaginably huge, this one is one of them.

But if you're interested in experiencing these speeds and distances, I'd suggest you give Celestia [shatters.net] a try. It's a 3d simulation that puts you smack bang into the middle of our solar system, and you can whiz around, visit nicely textured planets and even leave and visit other stars, other galaxies. Really beautiful graphics. You can actually move from the earth to the moon at walking speed, or at light speed.

An interesting coincidence (4, Funny)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933205)

Doesn't everyone else find it intriguing that the distance between the sun and the earth is exactly one Astronomical Unit??

If that isn't a sign of an Intelligent Creator, I don't know what is.

*removes tongue from cheek*

Re:Light is fast, but not as fast as we think (3, Funny)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933444)

The sun is one astronomical unit away. (150 Million kilometers) 4280 years of walking. You'd have to have started walking about the time the first pyramid was built to get there by today.

Your estimate appears 50% short. You fail to take into account that in order to safely walk to the Sun, especially at closer distances, you'd have to walk only at night.

I was going to joke about DNA... (0, Offtopic)

Gamiac (941763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930799)

But then I realized it wasn't a double-helix.

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (1)

slashflood (697891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930840)

I was going to joke about DNA, but then I realized it wasn't a double-helix.

It isn't?

A horse with 2 back legs and fore-legs has 6 legs-an odd number of legs. The only number odd and even is infinity.

Please explain.

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (1)

Kredal (566494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931015)

replace fore with four... it's a pun. Not sure why that's an "odd number" since it's even, and 6 isn't infinity.

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (1)

teraph (147902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931032)

It's an odd number of legs for a horse to have.

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (4, Funny)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931712)

What makes jokes funny is the way they are told. He didn't exactly tell it right. Here's the full thing about a horse having an infinte number of legs, and when told properly makes better sense, from /usr/games/fortune:

Every Horse has an Infinite Number of Legs (proof by intimidation):

Horses have an even number of legs. Behind they have two legs, and in
front they have fore-legs. This makes six legs, which is certainly an
odd number of legs for a horse. But the only number that is both even
and odd is infinity. Therefore, horses have an infinite number of
legs. Now to show this for the general case, suppose that somewhere,
there is a horse that has a finite number of legs. But that is a horse
of another color, and by the [above] lemma ["All horses are the same
color"], that does not exist.

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14930849)

I was going to joke about DNA... But then I realized it wasn't a double-helix.

yes it is. [answers.com] You are either unintelligent or incomprehensible which makes you rather unintelligent too..

Re:I was going to joke about DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931136)

Reminds me of an episode of star trek where they find DNA distributed around the galaxy in a double-helix pattern. It turns out to be a message from an ancient civilization.

If you look REALLY closely (5, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930853)

You will see a large, light absorbing, black monolith - howling Ligeti - in the center of the nebula.

Re:If you look REALLY closely (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930865)

"You will see a large, light absorbing, black monolith - howling Ligeti - in the center of the nebula."

That's fine with me, as long as they don't start chanting "Koyaaaanisqatsiii"...

Re:If you look REALLY closely (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931936)

If no one gets the joke, the music played in "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite", the last part of 2001: A Space Odyssey was composed by György Ligeti, noted composer born in Dicsöszentmárton (now Tarnaveni), Romania, educated in Budapest, and finally based in Germany and Austria after fleeing Hungary. The first piece played is the Kyrie from his "Requiem for soprano, mezzo-soprano, mixed choir, and orchestra", whose definitive recording according to the composer is on Warner Classics' The Ligeti Project Vol 4 [amazon.com] . The second piece is "Atmospheres" for orchestra, whose definitive recording is on The Ligeti Project Vol 2 [amazon.com] , although the recording used by Kubrick was highly altered and only a portion is heard. In another portion of the film, when Floyd is travelling over the lunar surface to visit the monolith, Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" for choir a capella is heard.

Kubrick never asked Ligeti for permission to use his music, and the composer was very unhappy when he found out. He filed a lawsuit against MGM, but later had to settle out of court for a paltry sum (just $4,000 or so). The joke in Steinitz's biography Gyorgy Ligeti: Music of the Imagination [amazon.com] goes that Ligeti once met an MGM employee who said that Ligeti was mad to file the suit in England, where it would go nowhere, instead of in the United States.

Re:If you look REALLY closely (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932831)

Thanks Capitan Wiki!

Re:If you look REALLY closely (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932977)

Why do you think I looked at Wikipedia for this? Any Ligeti fan would know this.

Re:If you look REALLY closely (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933336)

I was just kidding... I tend ot call people Capitan "something" when they spout trivia.

Re:If you look REALLY closely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932893)

You know you need to get out more, and mabye get a girlfriend, when....

Not Drawn to Scale (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930858)

We're just viruses infecting a milkyway cell.

Re:Not Drawn to Scale (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931584)

That would be a very short strand of DNA. Most DNA arranges itself into fibrous structures inside the nucleus of the cell. Also, DNA is normally not a flaming mass of gases.

Re:Not Drawn to Scale (1)

terrahertz (911030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931840)

As Bill Hicks [wikiquote.org] said: "We're a virus with shoes, OK?"

Latest News (4, Funny)

inKubus (199753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930872)

Scientists have discovered a restaurant at the end of the universe.

Re:Latest News (2, Informative)

Welsh Dwarf (743630) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931413)

Nop, since looking far is also looking back in time, they probably saw the Big Bang Burger Bar.

Re:Latest News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931901)

As long as it is not a Big Bug Burger Bar, ...

Re:Latest News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931440)

I've been there, don't try the fish... uhg...

Re:Latest News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933721)

Is it a McDonalds?

Journal link (5, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930886)

Here [nature.com] is the Nature article abtract:

"A magnetic torsional wave near the Galactic Centre traced by a 'double helix' nebula"

The magnetic field in the central few hundred parsecs of the Milky Way has a dipolar geometry and is substantially stronger than elsewhere in the Galaxy, with estimates ranging up to a milligauss (refs 1-6). Characterization of the magnetic field at the Galactic Centre is important because it can affect the orbits of molecular clouds by exerting a drag on them, inhibit star formation, and could guide a wind of hot gas or cosmic rays away from the central region. Here we report observations of an infrared nebula having the morphology of an intertwined double helix about 100 parsecs from the Galaxy's dynamical centre, with its axis oriented perpendicular to the Galactic plane. The observed segment is about 25 parsecs in length, and contains about 1.25 full turns of each of the two continuous, helically wound strands. We interpret this feature as a torsional Alfvén wave propagating vertically away from the Galactic disk, driven by rotation of the magnetized circumnuclear gas disk. The direct connection between the circumnuclear disk and the double helix is ambiguous, but the images show a possible meandering channel that warrants further investigation.

Re:Journal link (3, Funny)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931609)

... and if we modulate the subspace fields around the magnetodynamic plasma conduits while simultaneously emitting bursts of tachyon particles, we can spin the double-helix around and make it do a little dance...

Re:Journal link (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931830)

Sounds like electric universe theory is
  getting another evidence claim.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_cosmology [wikipedia.org]

Plasma cosmology is a cosmological model based on the electromagnetic properties of astrophysical plasmas. Advocates of plasma cosmology have offered explanations for the large scale structure and evolution of the universe, from galaxy formation to the cosmic microwave background, by invoking electromagnetic phenomena associated with laboratory plasmas. Plasma cosmology is considered by both proponents and critics to be a non-standard cosmology.[1]
Plasma, electrically conducting gas in which electrons are stripped away from atoms and can move freely, makes up the stars and the interstellar medium. Astrophysicists agree that electromagnetic effects are important in stars, galactic discs, quasars and active galactic nuclei but in the standard big bang model the formation of structure is dominated by gravitational effects. Plasma cosmology advocates assert that the universe has no beginning, whereas in the big bang model the universe, as we know it, has existed for only a finite time.

Deep thoughts (3, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930922)

I like the night sky, it always provokes deep thoughts. Like, what if the entire galaxy were just a single cell of a universe sized creature? If we were mere atoms, no not even on a scale that big; perhaps the tiniest of particles of particles of an atom, could we ever fully grasp the universe?

Could a single cell grasp, by which I mean sense, beyond its tiny neighbors to sense its place in the minute band of cells that make up even large tissues that in turn form the organ; themselves only part of the larger human creature. Still more, that human itself a seemingly insignificant speck in a sea of billions comprising the organism deemed 'Society.' That "insignificant" speck, like the cell that could be a white blood cell or a cancer cell, has the potential to help, harm or affect that gobal entity it is a part of.

What if the galaxy is not just a cell but an early cell; one undeveloped and still growing. Perhaps its culturing intelligent orders. Intelligents vast, streached thin between its stars; creating networks like those in a cell yet not governed by chemical interaction but in the perhaps equally predictable economics of cultural interaction. A growing cell; incubating intelligence that would mature the galatic cell in a way to interact with neighboring galactic cells, ultimatly tailoring (based on the surrounding galactic cells) the function of this galaxy.

A galaxy only a fraction of a fraction of a greater whole. A galaxy of intelect unaware beyond simple sensing of the galaxies beyond its neighbors, of its place; perhaps like a human cell. A universal organism ordered by a force greater and more mysterious than comprehensible; not unlike a comparison of the chemical interactions that govern a cell's behavior and the economical interactions that govern society. A Universal organism beyond conventions of the word. A Universal Organism that provokes its own environment and leads its own...


...deep thoughts.

Re:Deep thoughts (3, Insightful)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930977)

But as far as science is concerned whatever may be beyond our universe is irrelevant because we have no way of observing it. It's exactly like the falling tree in a forest question.

Re:Deep thoughts (2, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931009)

"But as far as science is concerned whatever may be beyond our universe is irrelevant because we have no way of observing it."

That may be, but I'm confident that some day we'll successfully explore the region north of the north pole...

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931133)

Actually the "does a falling tree make a sound if no-one is there to listen" can be answered quite easily, as you just need to leave behind a recording device.

Re:Deep thoughts (2, Insightful)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931673)

Obviously the recording device counts as "someone listening". The point is whether something that cannot be observed in any way exists at all.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933355)

It's actually much simpler - yes, it does.

I've always wondered what kind of inflated ego it would take to believe that a physical characteristic would not exist without the observer. Sure, it's possible that sound is a major scam regularly perpetrated by nature, but that's like debating possibility with a person who uses "assume that anything is possible" as a premise. If the only way to justify something is to assume the conclusion, it's probably a load of crap.

Consider an alternative scenario: a gun is set to fire based on a unpredictable event, such as how long it takes for ambient wind to spin a windmill 10000 revolutions. The shot could be heard from at least a mile away. What we hear is the rapid escape of hot gas under high pressure. That's a physical characteristic. In order for the sound to not be made, there would have to be some characteristic about the sound generation that went out and detected any form of device that could hear the sound and used that detection to decide if the sound wave would be generated.

Alternatively, if a person were to fire the gun, is the presence of that individual the amplifier that makes it possible for someone very far away, unaware of that individual, to hear the shot?

On topic: fortunately, the scientists who found this double helix believe in observing science, not making it up. It's interesting to see something large like this that is a large scale, observable physical object that looks like something that's very small to us and is kinda important to our being.

Re:Deep thoughts (3, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931661)

IMHO the falling tree in a forest is a philosophical question. Since we're on /. I'd say that we have no way of observing what's beyond our reality just like a process cannot know for sure if it's running on a perfectly virtualized environment or not. A process cannot know if it's running on a simulator in a completely different architecture than the one it was designed to run in, like Pac Man under MAME.

So we can define scientifically our representation of the universe in detail but it's still a representation.

This is not another "Life is a dream" opinion. Comparing reality to something else is pointless because we cannot define reality.

Re:Deep thoughts (2, Informative)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931689)

...we cannot define reality

Well, science defines reality as the set of observables. That's why the post I originally replied to is pure methaphysics.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932179)

pure methaphysics

Indeed.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933084)

Well, science defines reality as the set of observables.

You have just asserted one helluva big assumption, and one that is clearly false.

Look into the Copenhagen Interpretation that has been a major influence on basic physics and cosmology for about 75 years. Heres teh wpedia: Wikipedia on CI [wikipedia.org] . Or just adopt Paul Dirac's dictum for a successful career in physics: "Shut up and calculate!"

A loose phrasing of the core of CI is that human limitations in observations are such that the universe cannot be understood; physics and cosmology can at best develop models that approximate the real world. But the real processes are forever hidden by observational limitations like the Heisenberg principle and the mysteries behind the values of Plancks constant and even Pi.

To paraphrase someone (Feynman?), the CI means that not only is reality more complex than we think it is, it is more complex than we can possibly ever understand.

To put this in context, it means that science recognizes that it has nothing whatever to say about reality; science is an endeavor to develop a more elegant model of a largish cluster of blackbox phenomena.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933560)

I chose the wrong term: one can indeed define reality. What I meant is that one cannot know for sure what reality is made of, its intimate nature, by observing from inside reality itself.

Reply to: In Response To: RE:Re:Deep thoughts(RE) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934022)

That's why I chose hallucinagenic drugs. Placing myself outside of reality makes reality more observable. All scientists should be on LSD.

I thought I thaw a putty tat.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932838)

Mod parent up. He's done a good job of stating the position of a large number of the high energy physicist and cosmologist communities.

Re:Deep thoughts (0, Flamebait)

Umuri (897961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930980)

and it's wondering why this tiny planet named earth is trying to kill it from the inside. I mean look at it, if there's a universal organism, we're as close to a parasitic infection as you can get. Long live captialism McKing Fries w/ extra nonbiodegradable plastic and toxic waste sauce!

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931018)

"and it's wondering why this tiny planet named earth is trying to kill it from the inside. I mean look at it, if there's a universal organism, we're as close to a parasitic infection as you can get. Long live captialism McKing Fries w/ extra nonbiodegradable plastic and toxic waste sauce!"

Problems only have clear solutions when you ignore the details.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933503)

Most of the details exist to support agendas and perceptions that are wrong. It's perfectly reasonable to ignore irrelevant details.

I'm extrapolating from my software development experience. The user is often the least capable of defining the requirements because they hold many opinions and views based on what their current experience what they believe could be done. When it comes down to what they actually do and what problems they have (ie, it's all labor intensive and done on papers which get lost), that's a small part of what most people will write down as "requirements". On the other hand, developers often don't listen to users and push the solutions that they can provide. The devil is in the details. Not the real details, but all the ones that are there to make the clear solution much more opaque.

Re:Deep thoughts (4, Interesting)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932208)

Ha! You think we're killing the *planet*? Sorry, we're only killing our ability to live on the planet, if that. Earth's true species is the bacteria [stephenjaygould.org] .

In the late 1970s, marine biologists discovered the bacterial basis of food chains for deep-sea vent faunas and the unique dependence of this community upon energy from the earth's interior, rather than from a solar source. Two kinds of vents had been described: cracks and small fissures with warm water emerging at temperatures of 40 degrees to 70 degrees F and large conical sulfide mounds, up to 30 feet in height, and spouting superheated waters at temperatures that can exceed 600 degrees F.

Bacteria had long been identified in waters from small fissures of the first category, but it was only in the early 1980s that John Baross and his colleagues discovered a bacterial biota, including both oxidative and anaerobic species, in superheated waters emanating from the sulfide mounds (also known as "smokers").

They cultured bacteria from waters collected at 650 degrees F and then grew vigorous communities in a laboratory chamber with waters heated to 480 degrees F at a pressure of 265 atmospheres. Thus, bacteria can (and do) live in high temperatures (and pressures) of waters flowing beneath Earth's surface.


Yeah. We got nothing on these guys when it comes to survival of the fittest. We've even given Earth's bacteria a ride out of the solar system on our space probes, decades or centuries before we'll make the trip.

Real Deep thoughts (5, Funny)

Silentnite (815125) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931023)

Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank" and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind.

Jack Handey
Deep Thoughts

Haha, he makes me chuckle

Re: Real Deep thoughts (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931382)

> Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it's made up of two separate words "mank" and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery and that's why so is mankind.

I see that you follow the philosophy of Obi Wank Enobi.

Re:Real Deep thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931571)

Hey, free dummy.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931040)

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931100)

Don't bogart that joint, my friend.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931780)

Information can't travel faster than the speed of light, so anything that large would have to be incredibly slow. Also the universe is homogenous, and expanding, and doesn't resemble any part of any small or subatomic particle.

<inhales>

Oh I mean deeeeep dude, peace.

Re:Deep thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933571)

next time you state something so matter-of-factly, why dont you actually check your facts. you're wrong.

study some quantum physics and then tell us that information cant travel faster than light, idiot.

Re:Deep thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932111)

May be that could explain quantum physics. the apparently un predictable "spontaneous" events are not spontaneous after all. the really tiny particles flying out from "mother-particle" could be a space probe launched by a micro-( or should i say atto-)civilization. and I can say from empirical evidence that since human civilization is unpredicatable, so is the atto-civilization. I mean if we can be part of a larger being, why can't we extend the same to atomic levels and be universe to some other beings. btw, this guy [rael.org] would be happy as hell to read this comment. he thinks exactly that way, claims alien abduction, and that the aliens told him about this infinitely huge creature and millions of infinitesimally small worlds.

but seroiusly speaking, hindu mythology also mentions that zillions of universes come and go out of existence in a "moment" on the time scale of vishnu. may be they were refering to this after all. ... and I would like to welcome our universe-sized overlords but there is not enough space.

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933577)

Fleas that bite little Dogs
Have lesser Fleas to bite 'em
So lesser Fleas bite little Fleas
And so on ad infinitum

Re:Deep thoughts (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933633)

Your speculations, while interesting to read, are unlikely to be taken seriously by scientists due to their high level of compatibitibility with ID.

Size is the greatest power of all... (4, Interesting)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931067)

As the man in black explains to Roland in the first book of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, "The greatest mystery the universe offers is not life but size. Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses size... ... For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe..?"

What great poetry in the universe, that we should gaze out into the infinite deep of space, only to see the same elegent beauty [wikipedia.org] that we see when we probe the mysteries deep within ourselves.

Re:Size is the greatest power of all... (2, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931213)

"What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe"

I guess that's why flying fish return to the water, they fear the unknown... Call it intelligent falling.

Is it just me... (3, Funny)

agent provocateur (704970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931130)

or does anyone else see Cthulhu looking out at them from this picture... Come to think about it I see Cthulhu looking at me from most pictures ... oh there he is now...oh my god!! he's everywhere!!!

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933360)

Dread Cthulhu, elder god from the stars...
If you see him and live, you'll hang out more in bars...

simulate that! (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931270)

Someone should simulate it! Bonuspoints for combining a double helix, the universe, and a very big supercomputer!

Higher Res Picture? (1)

edward.virtually@pob (6854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931346)

Anyone know where one can download a higher resolution version? The website mentioned in the article has a flickr link, but only to a low resolution source.

Re:Higher Res Picture? (5, Informative)

edward.virtually@pob (6854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931352)

To answer my own question, here [caltech.edu] is the link.

THE obligatory question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931388)

Yes, but will it run Linux?

It's A Logo! (2, Funny)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931425)

What I reckon is, in some higher space, the DoubleHelix Corporation created this galaxy and did the primary gen-eng work on our ecosystem. All they're doing is trademarking their products.

hmmm... would corporate involvement disqualify this as "intelligent design" I wonder...

Looks like someone beat them to it (1)

sugarman (33437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931455)

Now we just need a way to get to the Spiral Path [comics.org] before Baron Karza...

What's the ratio of the cosmic DNA to regular DNA? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931568)

Maybe then we can tell how big God is. (Attempt at humour.)

Re:What's the ratio of the cosmic DNA to regular D (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931585)

... notes The Outer Limits episode "In the Blood".

Electric universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931642)

Maybe it is Birkeland current. You can learn about electric universe theory here:

http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/00subjectx.htm [thunderbolts.info]

Proof of intelligent design? +5 Funny (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931651)

Hmmmm... that wasn't there before!

Double helix in the sky tonight... (2, Interesting)

lxs (131946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931682)

Behold the predictive powers of ROCK!!!

...Double helix in the sky tonight
Throw out the hardware, let's do it right...


Steely Dan - Aja (1977)

Was the telescope... (0)

ricepudd (960850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931711)

... powerful enough to spot Sybok?

Interesting star or image artifacts? (0)

BlueMonk (101716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931733)

I noticed in the picture a bright/large star in the lower half of the picture right along the right edge that appears to have an interesting organization of equally spaced light spots around it. Is this just an artifact of some lense? I can't imagine that this would go unnoticed if it were real ... unless this is all part of an elaborate April Fools prank.

Re:Interesting star or image artifacts? (1)

Golden Section (961595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932312)

Take a look at the higher resolution image [caltech.edu] , and you'll see that every star has that pattern.

Re:Interesting star or image artifacts? (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932493)

I notice that pattern in everything.

Scientology, It's true!! (0, Offtopic)

resonte (900899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931735)

Yet another 'Sign' from the heavens that we were created in the image of our beloved mystical alien gods. They must've made this nebula after the wonderous design bestowed upon us. ....Yes, it makes perfect sense

But to quote Captain Kirk (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931801)

What does god... need... with a... star...ship?

Glad I wasn't the only one... (2, Funny)

plorqk (134858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931976)

who thought of 2001 (and the Simpsons) when I read that headline.

An observation of my own (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932045)

The phrase "magnetic field" appears 20 times and that short article. Most annoying.

Shape of space-time (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932053)

Shape of gravity,shape of space-time,Shape of magnetic field lines.They all have one thing in common . hexagonal

That's peculiar. (1)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932162)

A double-helix floating around the nucleus of our galaxy? Eerie coincidence.

Double helix is a naturally occuring shape! (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932595)

Which means that our DNA is formed by natural processes and not by a supernatural being.

Re:Double helix is a naturally occuring shape! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932823)

Clearly the natural processes were designed by an supernatural being with the purpose of creating DNA.

It's done procedurally! (3, Funny)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932629)

So we start out with a strand of DNA, and the camera zooms out, and you see the cells, the organism, skip a few, then the earth, solar syste, galaxy, big DNA helix in space, and start over.

So if we're just in someone else's cells, how long until we're all wiped out in 'The Big Sneeze'?

Powers of Ten (2, Informative)

murderlegendre (776042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932868)

You're describing a famous film short "Powers of Ten" by Ray & Charles Eames. I'm too lame to make a clicky link, so here is the URL:

http://www.powersof10.com/

Fantastic film, one of the few (good) films that most schoolchildren saw in the 1970's, along with "Our Mister Sun". If there is a better method of presenting The Relative Size of Things in the Universe, I've yet to see it. Ray & Charles were way ahead of their time.

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