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Act like an astronomer. November 17, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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My brother has a good friend who’s a celestial physicist. I always thought this had to be the best job title in the world, to have “celestial” as an official part of your job description. Today, however, I realized that I had grossly underestimated the potential of those who studied the heavens to come up with descriptions of their endeavors that were so grandiose as to be worthy of The Onion.

I saw a headline on Yahoo’s homepage that astronomers have used photos from the Hubble Space Telescope to reconstruct what the Milky Way must have looked like 11 billion years ago, when it was first forming, versus what it looks like now. This is no mean achievement, and as our friend Ben is a fan of all the natural sciences, I headed to the article to check things out.

I was rather startled to see that, at its putative birth, the Milky Way looked like a beautiful blue, star-studded cloud, but the (presumably actual) photo of the real-time Milky Way looked like a dead crocodile that had been covered loosely by a sheet of Bubble Wrap with slightly rumpled edges. Somehow, it had not occurred to me to think of our beloved galaxy in this manner before seeing the photo.

It was then, while still reeling from the Bubble Wrap experience, that I read that the data used to reconstruct our nascent galaxy came from the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey. Yowie kazowie!

It struck me at once that the rest of us were really missing out here. Why call everything we do such humdrum names when we could be calling them something that would stupefy even the likes of Sir Isaac Newton? Let’s say, for example, that we decide to have a bowl of cereal with milk and a sliced banana for breakfast. Sound banal? Not when you call it the Cosmic Multi-Continental Tropical/Temperate Agronomic Matitudinal Bovine (ga)Lactic-Musa Interface! (Matitudinal, morning, bovine, cow, lactic, milk, musa, banana, just in case you’re wondering.)

Just think how our lives would be transformed if we just thought in astronomical terms. Even as I write, our friend Ben is hard at work trying to think how to make “impoverished freelance writer, blogger, and editor” sound a little more impressive. Great Near-destitute Deep Extragalactic Original Verbose Celestial Body, anyone?

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