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Archive for October, 2009

A WORTHY WORRY

A WORTHY WORRY

By

Ruth Minshull

We’ve been worrying about all the wrong things. 

We stew over the possibility of higher taxes, the number of troops in Afghanistan, terrorists plotting to annihilate us, whether global warming can be fixed and how many friends we can claim on Facebook.

      We fuss about cheating politicians (or is that redundant?).  We concern ourselves if our favorite celebrity has to enter rehab.  (That’s just another requirement of fame now—along with claims of child abuse.)  We’re confounded by the fact that Paris Hilton has a custom-designed purse with a pocket for carrying her little pooch around. (That gives a whole new meaning to “doggie bag,” doesn’t it?)  We’re fretting about a possible new health-care plan that would get Grandma carted off to the Soylent Green factory.

We’re antsy over whether the crazy driver ahead of us is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, cell phone, Twitter or a bad hair day. 

While we’ve been carrying on about one can of worms or another, we’ve been unaware that we should be in a panic about something much bigger than any of these petty pothers.

I believe it was Bernard Baruch who once said that we would never be united as one until we found someone on Mars to hate.  Well, I’ve found it—and it’s bigger than any Martian could ever be.

Forget King Kong, the plague, man-eating slime and all the monsters and ogres of science fiction lore.

British astronomers have recently captured, on camera, images of the giant Andromeda galaxy in the process of devouring its neighbors.  Apparently, stargazers have been onto this ravenous omnivore right along, but now, for the first time, the thing has been caught in the very act of voracious cannibalism.

The amazing images were taken by a leading team of European, Canadian, Australian and American astronomers, and they form part of the largest photographic survey of the constellation ever undertaken, covering a region of almost one million light years across. 

The pictures offer the first direct evidence that bodies of stars are naturally cannibalistic.  Scientists theorize that galaxies are held together by gravity, and they evolve and grow by absorbing smaller galaxies.  Some of the new photographs actually show the remnants of these smaller galaxies after their demise.  So the law of nature seems to apply here, just as it does on the tiniest scale: the big bullies are sucking up the smaller ones and spitting out the bare bones.

It’s bad enough to know that there is a gigantic, gluttonous gourmand on the loose out there—starving for the next tasty snack—but apparently the hungry galaxy is heading straight towards us (at about 75 miles per second) and will be here sometime in the next few billion years.

So, this rapacious behemoth is coming after us.  If we don’t do something about it, we (you, me, our neighbors, Paris Hilton and the whole Milky Way) could be Andromeda’s next blue plate special.

Now, that’s what we should be worrying about.

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(c)2009 by Ruth Minshull

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