Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maureen Dowd: "Andromeda Is Coming!"

One of Walhydra's favorite satirists, Maureen Dowd, writes in the New York Times about our culture's fascination with all the different, fearful ways the world can end.

Feeling a little jittery, I called David Morrison, the senior scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, who answers questions online sent from the public to the Web site Ask an Astrobiologist.
When Morrison finally had Maureen reassured that most of the fads about ends of the world are just that, "he mentioned that the Andromeda galaxy is going to crash into the Milky Way in two billion years."
This artist's impression shows the collision between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, many billions of years in the future. This scenario is based on observed data and analytically grounded fantasy. Credit James Gitlin

This did not thrill Maureen, but Morrison said,

“We’ll just have twice as many stars.... The end of the world is a really silly concept. It’s been here for four billion years. I can imagine us blowing ourselves up as a civilization, but the planet wouldn’t care.”

How can he be sure?

“I have a doctorate in astronomy from Harvard,” he replied.

O.K. then.

1 comment:

solomon said...

There is a new substantiated hypothesis that the universe is now expanding and contracting at the same time (here we go: .

We think that some galaxies are moving away from us and some are approaching. The Andromeda is approaching to us with high speed (almost with the speed of light), but it falls into the black hole, at the center of which is our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Because of the great gravitational force between our galaxy and Andromeda, there is gravitational compression of time around us. That is, the time passes slowly around us, and it seems to us that Andromeda is approaching us slowly.

The closer it comes to us, the more will be the gravitational force and the time will slow down. We would think that the Andromeda is braking, slowing its approach, but it is actually approaching us almost at the speed of light.

We have nothing to be afraid of. According to our time, it needs billions of years to collide with our galaxy. If we really live in four-dimensional space, there is nothing surprising.