Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Dear Reader,

A big topic for today. A topic so big it took me a full day of thinking before I could write it hence the tardiness of this post from an A-Z Challenge perspective. If you were expecting this yesterday and had cancelled all of your meetings in anticipation of it I am sorry. Knowing me as I do, I would counsel you to not to cancel any meetings in anticipation of anything from me. Anyhoo, getting distracted...

So, a big topic for the day indeed, about a big thing. A thing so big that it is hard for me to put into words how big it is, so I will borrow some instead.

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. 

The Universe, big, innit?
Space, or the Universe is indeed big and getting bigger everyday. It is also full of stuff, some of which we haven't found yet except on paper, like dark matter. I am using "we" in the previous statement in such a way that suggests I am directly involved, hunting dark matter. I have nothing to do with the hunt for dark matter. I am using the "Royal" we. Need to get back on track, again.

Dark matter is tricksy, it exists as the "bit left over" in equations regarding the mass of the Universe, but finding it is difficult. The "bit left over" is a little misleading, as dark matter probably accounts for 83% of the Universe. 

Dark matter, the breakthrough!
As we can't see the majority of the universe I will deal purely with what we can see. What we can see is termed as the observable universe. Within this field of view are  3 to 100 × 10 to the power of 22 stars (30 sextillion to a septillion stars). In simple terms this means there are quite a lot, I would go as far as to say loads. To put it another way consider how many people live on our humble little planet, which would be approximately 7 billion. For very person that lives on our planet there are 4.28571429 × 10 to the power of 12 stars, (taking the lower estimate of the two above.) This means that when you wish upon a star you can have one of your own, without any immediate worries about supply, demand or having to put some number on the end of your name because your star has been taken. This will be of huge relief to Sorry, I've gone off track again.

Around that huge number of stars orbit planets and moons, all potentially capable of sustaining life. We (that will be the "Royal" we again,) are starting to search for objects that exist within a "sweet spot" in relation to their star conducive to sustaining life like us. We ("Royal" we) don't like things too cold, or too hot. We also like to breathe certain specific things and we don't want gravity to be too severe. Water would be nice as well. Using these parameters the search for objects can be refined significantly. Guess what, based on early stages of study there must still be loads, to the extent that you could wish upon your own habitable comfy planet and not worry about supply and demand for a long time.

A quite comfy estate.
Let us pretend that we are not unique. Let us pretend that the only reason we have not encountered anyone else is that the distances involved in getting from point a to point b are just a bit too troublesome which is why we haven't met an interstellar race. Let us also pretend that contact is coming soon with a humanoid race that has evolved and developed separately to us. There would be a sharing of knowledge, they would have done certain things better and we would have done other things better. would have a list of things that we should be doing better, it would start like this:

  • Hose Pipe Bans - always start when we seem to be running out of water. Why is it that as soon as a hose pipe ban starts, a cataclysmic quantity of rain falls? Hose pipe bans came into effect in the UK on the 5th of April. I am pretty sure it has rained every day since.
  • Dentistry - how can it be that leaps and bounds are being made in every form of surgery except dentistry. The only thing that has changed in dentistry since its inception is the implementation of power tools. I accept that I would rather have bad bits of a tooth drilled out if the only other choice is a hammer and chisel, but seriously there has to be a better way. If something is being taken out they still use pliers, if the extraction is difficult the dentist puts a knee on your chest and pulls really hard. Dudes, this is the 21st Century.
  • Trains - why is it that the inventor of the train implements and runs one of the worst train infrastructures in the civilised world?
  • Underground - I've used it for a while now, a while being the best part of 20 years. Will there be a time when parts of the inner workings of it are not exposed to everyone? Will there be a time when it is finished?

I am sure, Dear Reader, you have some thoughts of your own that you would like to share with our inter-galactic neighbours. Use the comment form to share your thoughts and feelings with the wider Universe.

Tomorrow / today I will be considering various variants of the letter V



  1. Loved your post! I really appreciate your writing style. I always knew I lived in a world full of goldilocks's.

  2. you had me at the Homer...

    You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge...
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

    1. you gotta love the Homer.

      I think I survived the A-Z challenge. It was you guys that did a great job.
      Congrats on the book.

  3. I love this. It's awesome to come across posts about science!

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

    1. Science definitely rocks! It's actually fun to write about too.

      Thanks for popping by.

  4. 4 weeks of rain, and apparently we're still in a drought. It's like one big joke, isn't it? Great post :)

    1. Indeed, to borrow from Jimmy Carr, "if this drought goes on much longer, we will run out of umbrellas."