A Walk Among the Stars

Calculating. Calculating.

Century 24, Century 23, 22, 21, 20 . . .

Whoops! Too Far!

Century 21. Beginning point.

Derive cultural syntax.

Working . . .

“Hey Dude! How they hangin?” (!!!) (Cultural referent, Earth Male. Comment – query about ??? semantic null)

Erm. This isn’t working! Their cultural modes of speech changed every few weeks and months! There is no way you can fix this to their time reference. Just act natural. . .

Let’s begin again.

Ah. . . Hello. I am not from around here. How are you? You remember me? Yes?

Most fortunate for me! A few seconds ago, erm, six months ago, we took a walk among the atoms. That was most enjoyable being there where everything is in perfect symmetry in every direction. I think this publication you are reading (a Webzine?) still has the recording of that walk we took, in their archives somewhere.

But now I have returned so that we can take a walk through the other end of the spectrum, which is the Universe. I romantically call this a walk among the stars, but it is much more than that.

The word Universe is a small word that doesn’t do justice to what it is supposed to represent. We are talking about “Everything There Is.” By any mathematical definition, Everything can always have one more thing added to it, so it really isn’t Everything, is it? You should try to avoid people who mess around with Set Theory, for it is improbable that their kindergarten math can do reality any justice to what is Real.

Ahem. I digress.

Also, by definition, when we walked among the atoms, that was a totally different experience than this one will be, for down there was perfect order and perfection. Up among the galaxies is total chaos. Yet we are finding harmonies even there, and symmetry, and a highly patterned order, as illogical as that may seem for chaos.

Lets walk now among the stars.

Man’s Cradle

Oh, for the first step we are not walking far. Just to your table here. Yes, this is the one we entered into, when we did that walk among the atoms.

First, we need to examine Man’s birthplace from this place, which is your Earth. Quite a remarkable piece of work, don’t you think? Its orbit around its G-class star (G2V) is 186 million miles in diameter. This is great for astronomers because it gives them a much bigger telescope with which to view the Universe, given that they can view things out there in space from opposite points of this orbital diameter.

The earth is also a very stable platform, despite the fact that it is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and traversing its orbit a bit over 66.6 thousand miles an hour around the Sun, all the while moving along the galactic plane at 66.6 million miles a year. Amazing!

How do I know the speed of your planet’s rotation? The earth is eight thousand miles in diameter. Therefore its circumference is that number times Pi, (PiD) or about twenty-four thousand miles around at the Equator. Since it conveniently takes 24 hours for any particular spot on the planet to rotate around to where it was yesterday, the surface is traveling a thousand miles an hour (at the Equator) to the East. It is a bit slower from where we are sitting right now you know, but it is still very fast. Faster than the speed of sound. I don’t feel a thing, do you? That is because everything else, including this ocean of air we are at the bottom of, is traveling the same speed.

You can work out the rotational speed of the earth around the Sun on your own, given the figures I just gave you. You will just have to take my word for the galactic speed of our solar system. It was a significant number, which I also had to calculate in order to arrive here to be with you.

What is remarkable to me is that I can sit in your house, at your table, and place a Dime (is this what you call it?) on edge on the table’s surface. It will stay like that for days and weeks. This is how stable the earth is Ð most of the time, anyway. Remarkable!

Your Back Yard

You have ventured out of your earthly cradle and into your back yard of local star systems for a couple of centuries now. In this backyard of yours are the Constellations, most of which you have given Greek and Roman names to Ð Whoops! Wrong century. Sorry!

Ahem! You and I can go outside now and look up at the night sky and see the local star systems from the earth. These are brightly visible star clusters, which you call Constellations. Most all of these are less than 3 or 4 hundred light years from earth, an easy distance.

They are not real formations, because some of the stars in these apparent formations are much further away than the rest of the stars you are seeing. If you were to travel a dozen light years in a perpendicular direction, this would become apparent to you, for those Constellations would vanish, and new ones appear with different configurations from your vantage point.

Take a look at some of them. Most prominent are the Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, which you call the Big and Little Dippers. You can see these above you at this time of year to the North. To the East, early in the morning, you can see Orion, which looks like a big “W” with a perfect line of four stars running up through it. To the left of this, and above it are the Pleadies, (M45) which is a collection of 47 highly visible stars in a tight formation. There are actually many more stars there, but I digress.

In six months you will be on the other side of your orbit around the Sun, and these constellations, for the most part will be visible in your night sky, but they will appear upside down from where they are now. How is that happening? Do you know?

You can figure out how this can be. Perhaps you can paint some tiny spots on your ceiling, which only show up in the dark. They can be mapped to your night sky. Now stand in one corner of your room and look up at them. Now stand in the opposite corner and look up. What do you see that is different? Exactly! Now stand in the center of your room and look up. Some of the paint spots are hidden behind you. This is why at one time of year you cannot see some of the Constellations you saw six months ago. They are hidden by the Sun, aren’t they?

Being in different places in your yearly orbit has helped your astronomers no end in figuring out how far away everything else is from the Earth. Cool! (Rad?)

There are many more Constellations, but you need to study them on your own, else we will never get to venture into your Neighborhood, which is the Galaxy you inhabit. (?) — WILL inhabit some day, hopefully.

Your Neighborhood

Your Galaxy (NGC0001?), which you call the Milky Way (why is it named after a candy bar?) is a collection of two hundred billions of stars, formed into a disk shaped spiral a hundred thousand light years across. You can see so many other galaxies shaped like this, (such as M85) so this is a popular shape for any galaxy to aspire to, so pleasing to the eye. But there is a much more important reason your galaxy must be shaped this way, which has to do with where there is Life to be found in a galaxy.

Globular clusters are another galaxy formation, which is just a fancy term for a ball full of billions of stars. Life almost never forms in these collections of stars because there are no cool spots, free from intense radiation, where planets can form that can support Life. Your spiral galaxy is perfect for this, in spite of its having a huge Black Hole at its center (most galaxies do, you know).

In a spiral galaxy, there is a zone, a circle around the whole galaxy out towards the edge, where there is not a lot of radiation, X Rays, Gamma Rays, and such. In fact, there are many cooler stars such as your own in this zone, where Life even has a chance of existing.

Even in your own Solar System, there is only one zone where Life can form. Outwards of that zone is too cold. Inwards, it is too hot. Planets can exist in all of these areas in a solar system, but your Earth just happens to be in the zone where Life can form. Or, haven’t you noticed?

You have SETI, which is an attempt to find other civilizations which exist in your galaxy, yes? Younger stars are predominant in your zone toward the ends of the spiral arm of the Milky Way. Older stars are more inward part of the spiral, toward the center. You would think more advanced civilizations would tend to be around older class M stars like your own. I wonder if SETI has figured this out as being a better place to scan, rather than just all over the galaxy? Just a thought.

Your galaxy is part of a tiny cluster of three, which is SagDEG (M54) and Andromeda (M31). SagDEG stands for “Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy,” which I guess is too small to warrant its own name yet. SagDEG, by the way, is “Currently Colliding With Your Milky Way!” Don’t worry. Its on another spiral arm on the other side. It will take a while before you feel it Ð a million years or so, so you don’t need to pack and leave yet.

Andromeda is only 3 million light years from your galaxy, so its collision is a ways off too, in the Grand Scheme of things. This Andromeda cluster is part of a larger collection of 30 galaxies you call the Mangellanic cluster. Andromeda is the largest galaxy, the Milky Way is next, and there are a bunch of small, faint galaxies that make up the rest of this cluster.

There are other galactic clusters out there, which your Mangellanic cluster is a small part of. That larger cluster forms an arm, which . . . Never mind. You will find out soon enough on your own, when you learn to visit these places.

You know, I mentioned that colliding galaxy, but the Milky Way has a much more urgent problem. It is that Black Hole thingy at the center. Most of the time these are benign. They just stay in one place and consume everything around them. However, most of the stars there, very densely packed, have rebelled and exploded in protest over being sucked into nothingness.

This exploding galactic center has produced a shock wave of immense power and radiation that is moving outward in all directions through the whole Milky Way. This is one you should pack for, say in 30 thousand years or so. Then again, this shock wave might dissipate before it ever gets out to your neck of the woods, so don’t worry about it. Forget I said anything.

The Rest of Everything

If you want to see everything else, you gotta get out of your neighborhood! We should go out above the galactic plane, above the Milky Way. We only need to go a couple of thousand light years. You ready?

My ship? Oh, its nothing. Just a standard Continuua Craft, self contained. It even has a CD player (Ð just kidding!) This is a fine ship, the product of many centuries of the discoveries and inventions of geniuses (geniacs?), who contributed to this Genation I have named IMA after its intergalactic magnetic analog engines.

What? Oh, you will figure out how to make one in not too many centuries.

Anyway, hop aboard.

Whoops! Here we are. Sorry for the speed thingy. These craft have no speed, which they apply in their no-realities, to go anywhere or anywhen, in no time at all.

What? Of course! All FTL craft are also time machines, which is why we cannot allow juvenile races to play with them. Who knows what kind of mischief they might cause, playing around the Universe and all. You know how kids are, right?

What? FTL. FTL! Faster Than Light! You can figure out these acronyms, if you apply your thinking abilities instead of asking for everything to be told you.

Now pay attention. Look out there. Notice first your own galaxy, the Milky Way. Beautiful isn’t it, full face on this way? You can see the bright hot center where stars are crowded together very closely. If one of them goes nova, it will take a bunch of the closest stars with it. Of course, you cannot see the black hole at the center, for there are too many stars between us and it, but you can see the swirling of the stars around its outermost edge.

Out where things are calmer, look at the four arms. Can you tell which one of these arem your star is located? Yes! That one. Notice all the lanes of dark dust that separate the arms, and intermix with the stars closer in toward the center. My how the starshine illuminates that dust with so many colors! You should be proud to live in such a nice galaxy, you know. Not all of them are as regular as this one. Yes, there is SagDEG just now colliding with the leftmost arm. It doesn’t look like such a bad collision from here. Both your large galaxy and this minor one still retain much of their original shapes.

Now look out the other side of our craft. Out here, way above your galaxy, there are no stars at all. Look for yourself if you don’t believe me. See! No stars out here. You will not see a one in all this emptiness. This emptiness, by the way, is much more empty than those wide spaces between the stars in your galaxy. This empty space is almost as rare out here between galaxies as it is between those atoms we walked among. You remember that? Such a perfect vacuum, yes? It folds up just as easily out here too, as it did between the atoms.

Yes there are no stars out here. All you can see, in every direction are Ð Galaxies! Ð billions and billions of galaxies everywhere you happen to look, and so on, and so on, forever and ever, ad infinitum! Amazing isn’t it?

Your own astronomers in your 24th (21st?) century already have seen billions of light years into this great OUROBOROS —

What? Do I have to explain everything? It is an ancient Earth symbol of a snake devouring its tail, which in the 21st Egyptian Dynasty (they did die nasty deaths too) the symbol was invented as an attempt to describe Everything, Time, Space, Infinity, Eternity, and how to brew good beer.

Great name, and not a bad start on those important concepts either. But, as with most things people do, it got turned into no end of foolish religions, all to no point or purpose.

The rest of Everything There Is, or if you want to call it the Ouroboros, or the Universe, is really not Everything There Is. Let me explain.

Look out there again. Use the hand scope to see all the most minute details in any galaxy you look into, regardless of its distance. What do you see? You see galaxies in every shape, form, and fashion, don’t you? Each one of them are full of billions of stars, and each one is completely beautiful, in its own unique way? Such beauty and wonder, yes?

As far as we can determine, no two of them are alike. That fact has amazing consequences for all of us, as you can imagine. You might also notice that all galaxies and all the stars within them spin in the same direction. No, we do not know why that is, but it is amazing, is it not? You can see we have much to learn yet, so you and I are not that different are we?

Take your time. Look at all of them, as many as you can take in. You see them dying and being born. You see them colliding and going through fantastic epochs of change and transformation. Look closely inside some of them and you will see nurseries for newborn stars. Older galaxies are full of red giant stars, and brown dwarfs turning into black holes. Some of these older galaxies are undergoing transformations within themselves, in which there are great numbers of new stars forming out of the debris of the old dying ones. Do you see a cycle here?

What else do you see? Yes! You understand! It is infinite, isn’t it? Even we cannot see its end, if it even has one. Nor can we travel as far away as we can see. Those who try never come back again, possibly because they have lost their way in all this infinity. Yes, it can be overwhelming, I know.

Now explain to me the difference between infinite and eternal. Can you do it? Yes, my head hurt the first time I tried it too. Continue, please.

Right! Infinity has no end, but it does come to an end some day, doesn’t it. It runs down and ceases to exist. Eternity is that which never ends. Therefore, Everything There Is, is not everything there is. There must be some cause for all of this, which is outside of Everything. There must be some starting point for all that you are seeing right now. It also follows that after all this is gone, there must be something more to follow.

Why? Because Everything There Is. is just too perfect, too well made, too intricate, and too vast for there to not be something or someone who is before its beginning, who inhabits its existence, and who is around after it has an end. It isn’t just the math that tells us this, but our own innate instincts. Therefore, this is the conclusion we have come to . .

What? You don’t believe in God? Well, that is you in your cradle days on Earth, when you good folks still consider yourselves to be at the center of everything, for the most part, and you are busy creating everything in your own image. If you live out here in the Universe, where even living many centuries are too short a time to see it all, then your perspective changes a bit.

We are looking for the Cause behind everything, hoping to discover how this all came about. We consider this our primary reason for existing, else what is our purpose to exist, or for that matter, why should anything exist, especially Life?

If infinity is not the same as eternity, then there must be more to Everything that what there is that meets our perceptions. Believe me, when you come out here on your own and look around at all the infinite beauty and wonder, you will be asking these same questions concerning eternity and a creator.

What? You want to go back now? That is fine. It does seem we have been out here looking at everything for a few years now, doesn’t it? I will be happy to take you home. Thanks for coming out here with me. I do so enjoy showing Everything to anyone who will walk with me!

Whoops! Here is your house. Look! Your animal (cat? dog?) is coming to greet you!

Be content with your world, my friend, for it is a very fit home, and you should do all you can to protect and preserve it. Earth is all you have for the present, you know. It would be a great loss to the Universe if your cradle should fall before you were grown up enough to leave it safely behind, right?

Remember what you saw out there, OK? Also, ask yourself some questions about who could have possibly created all of these things. Especially try to figure out what kind of a being it/he/she could be?

One thing you might ask is not how there came to be a Universe, but why did there come to be intelligent Life to ask such questions? You might want to ask if such a Creator is far away and too busy to be bothered with all of us, or did he create Life and is he intimately involved with each one of all these beings he might consider to be his children?

The Universe, and indeed your world is very beautiful, isn’t it? The Earth is also highly designed and it works quite well, from your perfect place in orbit, to your perfectly balanced environment with its profusion of Life, water, and elements in so many manifestations. This implies that its Creator is quite an designer, with the emotional heart of a artistic genius, and even a lover, wouldn’t you agree?

You might also question some of the religions in your world as to whether such a benevolent creator would demand of his children that they murder other people, or give themselves to suicide. Or whether such a God would want us to hate one another? Maybe it would be good to ask if he even wants your man made religion to begin with.

I suspect if he is close by, then you don’t really need to travel the galaxies to find him. Nor do you need someone to talk to him for you. He just might be close enough to talk to, if you really wanted to find him, and if you were not afraid of what he might say to you. If you are his creation, I suspect he might love you quite a bit more than you could imagine. After all, he gave you this world, and even Everything There Is, didn’t he? Perhaps you might even find that he will give you All Things, if you ask.

Does he have a name? We simply call him, “Father.” Somehow that seems appropriate, don’t you think?

Be well, my friend! I will see you again. Thanks for walking with me once more. Who knows where we might go next?

Roger Born

Roger Born

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