The experiment is the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), which is using the 2.5-meter (100-inch) Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope.
The original Sloan survey compiled the most detailed three-dimensional map to date of a large swath of the universe. It used bundles of digital fibers to observe more than one million galaxies. The data included each galaxy’s location on the sky and its distance from Earth.
A team of astronomers used the observations of how galaxies are distributed through space to search for evidence of baryon acoustic oscillations. Observations of 46,000 luminous red galaxies, which are especially bright and red, across several billion light-years of space revealed a slight excess of galaxies that are 500 million light-years apart. This distance is like the crest in a ripple from a rock thrown into a still pond. As the universe expands, the size of these ripples should increase with it, so measuring the size of the ripples at different times will reveal how the expansion of the universe has changed.
Sure. baryon is all fun and discovering the ancient universe until it clogs up your starship and then while you’re getting a cleaning some thieves decide that this is a good time to steal trilithium. (Hehe.)
In his recent book The Social Conquest of Earth, the great myrmecologist and evolutionary theorist Edward O. Wilson comments at several points on animals with especially complex social behavior. Leading that parade: human beings. A close second: leafcutter ants. It might seem odd that tiny ants, with their necessarily tiny brains, could rival humans in the sophistication of their social order, but it turns out, the science of emergent behavior has shown, that the consistent following of very simple rules can produce exceptionally complicated actions—rather like computers do. Or, to be more precise, exactly as computers do.
I bet fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation won’t remember Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher quite looking like this. I hadn’t intended for Dr. Crusher to come out looking like an anime character, but after I finished coloring her hair, I nodded with deadpan approval. And yes, I really did color Picard’s uniform carnation pink and yellow-green; the better to make him extra fabulous. Maybe I will put up the holodeck picture that I colored to such degree that Spencer was prompted to rechristen it the disco-deck.
It’s a strange coincidence that Neil Armstrong died on the day that Spencer threw her Captain Picard Day Party — yes, this is the party that I was talking about. Your reaction is probably about on par with the one that my church friends had. Yesterday was also the day that one of them was moving from California for good, after living here in San Francisco for 14 years, and at the end of the move, I was asked the obligatory question of what I was doing for the rest of the day.
"My friend is throwing a Captain Picard party," I said, grinning with expectation.
Spencer had originally scheduled the party in June but then she broke her arm. It is stranger to think that the newly rescheduled party now fell on Mr. Armstrong’s death. I was the classic kid who dreamed of becoming an astronaut because of him. Without Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, who knows if any of us would ever look up dreaming of star treks? Anyway, you might be wondering why in the world we would throw a Captain Picard Day Party, and perhaps, if I’m not reaching too far or hoping for too much (as I do) you are also wondering if there actually is a Captain Picard Day.
Yes, we spent the party coloring. And, yes: if you have any friends who are Trekkies and they ask if we drank earl gray tea, we did. Not just earl gray tea but: tea, earl gray, hot. Sorry, that’s a Captain Picard thing.
Spencer also prepared a feast not necessarily having anything to do with Star Trek. She made rosemary chicken breasts, blue cheese pasta, and she even made her own hummus, and her own maple ice cream. For a party with no beer, it sure was a lot of fun. I know that I probably sound like an alcoholic saying that. But for many years now, the staple of an adult party has always seemed to be that one should have a drink of some kind in hand. However, this was a party that celebrated the basics: good friends and fond childhood memories. A bunch of 30-year olds sitting around coloring and speaking line for line with episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation streaming one after the other on TV — no additional inebriation required.
I see that All-Star results will be announced later this morning at the same time my shift starts. Either I will hear about it at work or will be completely unaware until my shift is over. I usually don’t pay attention to my phone unless I’m on a break, and even then keeping in touch with the world beyond my store — which lately has taken on the strange feeling of solace — isn’t vital. Usually when I get out of work there are a couple of text messages, missed calls and the occasional voicemail waiting. Whatever it is, I can deal with it later.
Your next road trip is coming up and you’re going to be in my hometown. They’ve just endured some pretty wild thunderstorms. I grew up with all of that. I’m used to darkened skies and not knowing whether or not the earth-quaking rumble in the near distance is really bad thunder or an actually approaching tornado. Once a tornado did touch down a few blocks from where I grew up. It’s weird how specific that particular weather phenomenon can be, like that time on Star Trek: The Next Generation when this human chick found out that her parents were really part of the immortal godlike Q Continuum and the continuum had decided to kill them for their human ways by unleashing a tornado on their house in Kansas… I wonder if your mind went foggy at the words “that time on Star Trek.”
As anyone who has ever worked retail or customer service will tell you, that line of work is a great environment from which to observe human nature. Yesterday, I had a customer who was otherwise friendly when she came up to my register with her book. When I rang up her book and gave her the total, her eyes bugged out and she said, “Wait — what?!” She gave me a fleeting look that reminded me of those horror movies where the filmmaker decides that in order to show the audience that the human character on screen is actually a menace, that character’s face will flash briefly with the face of a demon (accompanied by the obligatory surround-sound effects of growling, shrieking and a thumping score). I watched with a scientist’s dispassion as the customer appeared ready to rip out my throat while she snatched up the book and then her demeanor instantly deflated when she saw that the price I had rung up was correct and her assumption was not.
"Oh sorry, I thought it said something else," she said to me with nascent humility, in a transformation that could also harken back to said example horror movie.
It is funny to wonder about how many conflicts and wars, how many bridges burned and lives lost can be attributed to assumptions and generalizations, to the words and notion of “I thought.”
I guess a part of me just stood there watching her because I was confident that the data on the register was right. I mean, it had to be, right? Usually the register has accurate information, and if the customer had gone on to insist otherwise, of course I would’ve pulled one of my colleagues to double-check.
But I was more interested in seeing it all unfold and adapting accordingly. I think this is my approach to life overall. I would hope that I’m not exactly a wallflower or someone who sits on things until it’s too late to do anything about it. Rather, perhaps I take after the land, which sits around existing and doing whatever it does to support itself and the people to which it comes in contact, while somehow being able to endure unexpected thunderstorms and those weirdly specific tornados.
This is the actress Marina Sirtis, best known for playing Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Counselor Troi was half human and not, as shown here, a Romulan. In this photo, she has actually been kidnapped and forced to assume the identity of a Romulan military officer. It is one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, possibly in all of Star Trek.
Aw, come on. HOW CAN YOU LOOK AT THIS PIC OF COUNSELOR TROI AS A ROMULAN AND NOT WANT TO BECOME A TREKKIE?
Okay, I’m a geek. A geek is writing you never-to-be-sents.
I’m really over people saying SHUT UP WESLEY to me. It isn’t funny, it isn’t clever. It’s annoying. It was 25 fucking years ago. I’ve heard it. Find a new bit, please.
Additionally, I’m over people saying SHUT UP DAWN. I’m not even Michelle Trachtenberg, and I think it’s annoying. By the way, these days Ms. Trachtenberg is a rather hot woman only three years younger than me — and I’m saying this as a very gay male.
I have always been a Dawn apologist. That character gave Buffy a crucial familial connection. As Buffy battled vampires, demons, and other supernatural stand-ins for the darkness of the world, Dawn grounded Buffy to the world. Buffy’s purpose as the slayer was to kill; Dawn’s purpose was to help Buffy live — for family, for this life, the only life, the world.
It’s a valid argument to say that Dawn was sometimes merely a plot device. As a character, she certainly could have been better written. The sixth season kleptomaniac thread was kind of dumb. But finally, she becomes whole in the seventh season; Dawn coming of age is a bright spot in a final season that was spotty at best.
During “Once More With Feeling” sing-alongs when the audience is jubilantly chanting SHUT UP DAWN as a collective like so much liberated Borg being led around by Lore, I’m the only one saying NO YOU SHUT UP.