Tag Archives: universe

Easter Eggs

This fun fact isn’t about the practice of painting/hiding actual/plastic eggs during Easter. This is about the other kind of “easter egg”, various in-media jokes, hidden messages, or other feature that is often hidden from the viewer. For instance, sometimes Google Maps will instruct the user to “swim across the Pacific Ocean” when giving directions that involve crossing the Pacific Ocean. Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails and Venetian Snares have incorporated pictures into the spectrographic representations of their songs. The tenth comic from Randall Munroe’s xkcd is an image where pi is equal to 3.141592653589793helpimtrappedinauniversefactory7108914, poking fun at the simulated universe idea by putting an easter egg in pi. Various other Google services also include easter eggs including recursion. Finally, video games. Secret rooms, glitches, blatant references to other media. The video game medium is chock full of so many easter eggs that they’re not really worth mentioning. Except for maybe one: the Konami Code (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A). First seen in the 1986 NES game Gradius and popularized in the NES release of Contra, the Code has been seen across media, not just Konami Games.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture

Space Week Day 7: The Milky Way

If you live in or near or have access to a dark place at night, preferably when the moon is new or below the horizon, you may be able to see twin bands of stars surrounding a band of relative darkness. The band of darkness is the galactic plane, where most of our galaxy’s dust, debris and non-stellar gas is found, and the twin bands of light are stars that are slightly outside of the galactic plane. The estimated diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy is about 100,000 light-years. For scale comparison, if the galaxy and everything in it were scaled down to be one kilometer across, the solar system including the hypothetical Oort comet cloud, would be less than a centimeter across. The Milky Way Galaxy is made of two main arms, two minor arms and at least two smaller spurs. The two main arms are the Scutum-Centaurus and Perseus arms, the two minor arms are the Carina-Sagittarius and the Norma-Cygnus/Outer arms. The Solar System resides in a smaller spur between the Carina-Sagittarius and Perseus arms called the Orion spur. The entire Milky Way galaxy moves around a radio emitting object at the center of the galaxy called Sagittarius A* (the * is pronounced “star”), the current explanation for the object is that Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole containing more than 4 million solar masses.

Leave a comment

Filed under Science, Space

Space Week Day 5: The Big Rip

If there is a doomsday, this is it. A major aspect of cosmology and astronomy is that the universe is expanding. “Expanding” in this sense doesn’t necessarily mean that the universe it getting bigger, but that everything is accelerating away from everything else. Everything is accelerating from everything else. EVERYTHING. Planets that make up the solar system, the rocks that make up the rocky planets and asteroids, the chemicals that make up the rocks, the atoms that make up the chemicals and the fundamental particles that make up the atoms. Everything is getting farther apart, and is moving away from everything else faster and faster every second. The Big Rip hypothesis was postulated in 2003 and relies on the value of a variable, w, to determine the time the universe has left. In an example where w=-1.5, the universe has about 22 billion years left before it starts to get ripped apart. So how long do we really have? w is probably, according to the authors, closer to -1, and if w is exactly -1 the Big Rip will never happen. So, you have at least 22 billion years, and probably far longer, to worry.

Leave a comment

Filed under Science, Space