Thursday, April 14, 2005

They're Coming

Want to see something amazing? Check this out.

This is a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (the one being abandoned by NASA because "it would put astronauts at too much risk to repair" - Hello? It's okay to put a million troops "in harm's way" to keep a penny-ante dictator from using imaginary WMD, but to risk one astronaut to repair one of the most important scientific instruments ever invented...but I digress).

The picture is of a "smoke ring" galaxy (or Hoag's Object) which is thought to be formed by a soliton wave, which is akin to the bow wave from a boat that continues intact for a long distance. But forget the physics of soliton waves for a minute (I know it's tough, but you need to let go).

How about pondering what the hell caused the soliton wave in the first place? Looks to me like some sort of incredibly massive event took place at the core of this galaxy, something akin to a collision or explosion the size of trillions of star systems - almost beyond comprehension.

Natural event? Maybe. But look carefully at the picture again. See that little circle about 10 degrees of North from the main galaxy? Another smoke ring galaxy!

Now, one amazing once in a billion years incredibly rare event would be interesting, no doubt the source of hundreds of speculative astrophysics papers and dozens of newly minted PhDs. But two? In almost a direct line with each other (at the distances we're talking about, anyway)? Hmmmm...maybe it's time to buy that lottery ticket after all, since statistics must clearly lie.

And let's think about this a little more...

  • For both of these galaxies to look so similar, they must have had a similar cataclysmic event.

  • For both of these galaxies to look so similar when they're thousands of light years apart, the galaxy in the back (the little one) must have had its mind blowing event thousands of years before the galaxy in the foreground.

Which implies that there is a common cause...and that common cause is advancing through the universe, affecting galaxies along the way...and that common cause is headed this way.

I've always wondered what would be the outcome if some extraterrestial species caused some massive observable event in the universe that could be observed with instruments here on earth. Say perhaps a galactic engineering project. Perhaps a galactic war. Perhaps just the latest power source invention (having abandoned inefficient fossil fuels billions of years past).

Since scientists don't believe in ETs (not if they want to get published in a respectable journal, get tenure, get grant money, push around slave labor grad students and host terribly droll faculty parties, they don't), what would be the result of such an observation?

The result would be a series of fascinating papers, in which very smart astrophysicists jump through hoops and create some new, exciting physics to explain the event. When all the while, Occam's Razor says that perhaps there's a simpler explanation.

And that explanation may be - they're coming. And they're pissed.
(And they blow stuff up when they're pissed. Big time.)

Pleasant Dreams...

2 Comments:

At Wednesday, April 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they are just clearing the way for the new intergalactic highway?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371724/

 
At Wednesday, April 27, 2005, Blogger A Muser said...

42

 

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