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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

THE LATEST ON OUR AMAZING UNIVERSE

Has any scientist confirmed what exactly dark energy and dark matter are?  No.  Has anyone seen anything called dark matter or measured even a speck of dark energy?  No.  Yet, astrophysicists proclaim that our Universe consists of 95% dark matter and dark energy.  Surprisingly enough, the dominant of the two, dark energy, was only postulated around twenty years ago.  One day soon I'll go into these details.

Now, going on to what we can see, the morning paper had two articles:


  1.  Mega black holes:  Having just circumflied around our world, I awe at the size of our globe.  I can only barely conceive of our Sun having 332,946 times the mass of Planet Earth.  However, we now learn that there is a black hole out there that is 20,000,000,000--that's 20 billion--times the mass of our Sun.  To be more accurate, 21 billion, known officially as National General Catalogue (NGC) 4889.  Then comes this second mind-boggling figure--it is 336 million light years away.  This means that the light we now see from NGC 4889 happened 336 million years ago.  336 million years ago mammals had not yet evolved on our planet, which had only one continent, Pangaea, and, perhaps this might be what our flora and fauna were:


  2.  Large, Earth-like planet a good candidate for life:  The Kepler telescope found Kepler-22b (artist imagination to the left), and that title in the Star-Advertiser, titillated about finally finding a planet that could harbor life, for it was found in the Goldilocks Zone, not too cold and not to hot, orbiting a Sun-like star.  Except that it is 2.4 times our size and is covered either with gas or liquid.  How they can determine such detail is indeed impressive, for it is 600 light years away.  This means, if you sent our space shuttle to Kepler-22b, it would take 22 million years to get there.  Consider, again, that us, Homo sapiens, arrived on the evolutionary scene maybe 100,000 years ago.  22 million years ago our ancestral root was still only a monkey in East Africa.  Of course, we won't send anyone to that planet, for we can communicate like in the movie Contact.  Sure, for 600 years ago the Ming Dynasty was at peak and America was not yet found by Columbus.  That is the time frame of communication we would need to wait for a reply into the future.  But we can dream.


We have a large Universe, much we can't even see, not even counting those dark bits of matter.  So, while it would take light 100,000 years just to cross our own Milky Way Galaxy (above), I think it is justified for my Federal government spending a relatively insignificant portion of our Gross National Product on something called hope.

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The Dow Jones Industrials continue to climb, up 52 to 12,150, while world markets were mixed.  Gold went up $4/toz to $1728, while the WTI is at $101/barrel and the Brent at $111/barrel.

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The day ended with an especially informative and stimulating dinner at Morton's with Rinaldo Brutoco, founder and President of the World Business Academy.  The desserts looked great, but, for the recored, we passed.  Madeleine, we both missed you.

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