Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thoughts On The Mind-Boggling Nature Of The Universe

With every revelation of the Hubble telescope, the universe appears ever more mind boggling. According to NASA, a massive black hole has been detected by the Hubble in the M84 galaxy:

"The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph measured a velocity of 880,000 mph within 26 light-years of the galaxy's center. This measurement allowed astronomers to calculate that the black hole contains at least 300 million solar masses. M84 is located in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, 50 million light-years from Earth, and a nearby neighbor to the more massive M87 galaxy, which also contains an extremely massive black hole." (NASA)

Just think of it. We are but a speck in a quite small solar system "only" several hundred million miles across. Our solar system is among millions of other solar systems inside the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is only one galaxy among millions of other galaxies, of which M84 and M87 are just two. Those two galaxies are part of a cluster of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster, which itself is 50 million light years away from us.

Being that far away means it would take us 50 million years traveling at the speed of light (about 186,282 miles per second) to get there. We're talking a l-o-o-o-o-ng road trip: something like 293,729,457,600,000,000,000 miles. I wonder how long it would take someone to get there driving 60 miles per hour? OK. You can do the math.

Perhaps even more amazingly, on top of it all, the black hole discovered inside galaxy M84 contains the masses of more than 300 million suns. And, get this, according to the NASA report, in the middle of that galaxy velocities of 880,000 miles per hour have been measured. Such high velocities are apparently used by scientists to detect the presence of a black hole as well as the amount of stuff it has already sucked into itself.

Compared to the speed of light, 880,000 miles per hour is really way slow. But just think. Traveling at that speed, it would only take us around 15 minutes to get to our moon. This is definitely one of those "things that make you go "Hmmmm". The scope is almost beyond comprehension. If you ask me, in the overall scheme of things, whether or not the furniture got dusted this week is probably not worth worrying about.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Once Upon A Teacup

"Once Upon A Teacup"
By Bill Kirk

Inside the kitchen cupboard,
That sometimes is quite bare,
There sits a special china cup,
Placed upside down with care.

The teacup's edge is broken,
For it had hit the floor.
The missing piece had left a hole
Just perfect for a door.

My Grandma keeps that teacup
To use again one day.
"As soon as I can find some glue,
I'll fix that cup," she'd say.

The cup was long forgotten,
Until a little mouse
Had moved inside it with his Dad
And made a teacup house.

Each day the mouse would wake up
And run outside to play.
Sometimes he'd find a little snack
To munch along the way.

At night, his Dad told stories
About their teacup home
And how they'd always be a pair,
Wherever they would roam.

One day they heard soft knocking
Upon their house so snug.
"Who could it be outside our door?
A spider or a bug?"

A lady mouse was looking
For a place to rest.
"Might you have some room for me,
Inside your comfy nest?"

She stayed a day, then longer.
Soon Summer changed to Fall.
She helped them make their teacup warm,
When Winter came to call.

The little mouse decided,
He liked their family.
Their teacup was the very best
Mouse-house that it could be.

But though he really liked it,
They soon ran out of space.
In Spring, they left their teacup house,
To find a bigger place.

So, if you find a teacup--
A chipped hole on one side;
And if it's tucked behind some plates,
Where little things can hide;

Although it might be dusty
And covered up with grime.
It may have been a mouse's house
Once upon a time.