Devoted ten minutes to the puzzle, after discovering I myself had no idea really.
Let’s start with basics.
One problem is it’s hard to render these distances on any map. Take just sun to Earth, for instance.
Sun to Earth
93 million miles.
The earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. The sun’s diameter is 864,327 miles. So if we made a map, where the Earth was one inch, the sun would have to be nine feet tall and 978 feet away.
Another way: if Earth is a golf ball (1.68 inches diameter) the sun is a 15.26′ ball, five and half football fields away.
OK, how about to the edge of our solar system?
Well, what’s the edge? Neptune’s the most distant planet, right (after that unpleasant Pluto business)?
Sun to Neptune
4.18 light hours (or .00047684 light years)
But the real edge of our solar system, people seem to think, is way crazy farther past even Pluto.
It’s in a place that is still mostly just a theory, a sphere of wandering ice comets called the Oort Cloud:
Very difficult to render how far away the Oort Cloud is, at this level the scaling is so ridiculous that a 2D map with like dots on it becomes pretty irrelevant.
From the sun to the Oort Cloud – the edge of the solar system – is something like 1.87 light years.
The next solar system over, Alpha Centauri, is 4.37 light years from the sun.
VERY good chart, thanks so much NASA/Penn and also for putting that map in the public domain, although I guess as a federal taxpayer I do own it kind of.
You can see Alpha Centauri with your naked eye, I believe, I think our excellent friend Jeff even pointed it out to us once. From Earth it appears to the eye as a single object even though it’s a two-star system:
Us and Alpha Centauri are in the Milky Way. You can see the Milky Way from Earth, even though we’re in it, because it’s a spiral, and we’re in the spiral:
The laser in this picture is pointing toward the Galactic Center, which is 27,000 light-years away from the sun.
The Milky Way is 100,000-120,000 light years in diameter.
How many stars are in there? Maybe: 100-400 million stars they think. These numbers are much revised over history and expect will be revised many times again.
The closest galaxy over is Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light-years from Earth.
It is in our (comically named) “Local Group,” which has more than 54 galaxies in it.
Comically named I say because the diameter of the Local Group is 10 million lightyears.
From Earth to the edge observable universe in any direction is 46 billion lightyears.
What’s that you say? How can that be? Back up.
Does the universe have a center? Are we the center?
If we’re the center then… what? If not then… what?
Well at this point, I’m afraid I’ve lost comprehension for now and more reading would be necessary to even begin to wrap a desperate brain-finger around the most basic essays into this fathomless question.
Many secondary sources have reported a wide variety of incorrect figures for the size of the visible universe. Some of these figures are listed below, with brief descriptions of possible reasons for misconceptions about them.
13.8 billion light-years
The age of the universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years. While it is commonly understood that nothing can accelerate to velocities equal to or greater than that of light, it is a common misconception that the radius of the observable universe must therefore amount to only 13.8 billion light-years. This reasoning would only make sense if the flat, static Minkowski spacetimeconception under special relativity were correct. In the real universe, spacetime is curved in a way that corresponds to the expansion of space, as evidenced by Hubble’s law. Distances obtained as the speed of light multiplied by a cosmological time interval have no direct physical significance.
- 15.8 billion light-years
- This is obtained in the same way as the 13.8 billion light year figure, but starting from an incorrect age of the universe that the popular press reported in mid-2006. For an analysis of this claim and the paper that prompted it, see the following reference at the end of this article.
- 27.6 billion light-years
- This is a diameter obtained from the (incorrect) radius of 13.8 billion light-years.
- 78 billion light-years
- In 2003, Cornish et al. found this lower bound for the diameter of the whole universe (not just the observable part), if we postulate that the universe is finite in size due to its having a nontrivial topology, with this lower bound based on the estimated current distance between points that we can see on opposite sides of the cosmic microwave background radiation(CMBR). If the whole universe is smaller than this sphere, then light has had time to circumnavigate it since the big bang, producing multiple images of distant points in the CMBR, which would show up as patterns of repeating circles. Cornish et al. looked for such an effect at scales of up to 24 gigaparsecs (78 Gly or 7.4×1026 m) and failed to find it, and suggested that if they could extend their search to all possible orientations, they would then “be able to exclude the possibility that we live in a universe smaller than 24 Gpc in diameter”. The authors also estimated that with “lower noise and higher resolution CMB maps (from WMAP’s extended mission and from Planck), we will be able to search for smaller circles and extend the limit to ~28 Gpc.” This estimate of the maximum lower bound that can be established by future observations corresponds to a radius of 14 gigaparsecs, or around 46 billion light years, about the same as the figure for the radius of the visible universe (whose radius is defined by the CMBR sphere) given in the opening section. A 2012 preprint by most of the same authors as the Cornish et al. paper has extended the current lower bound to a diameter of 98.5% the diameter of the CMBR sphere, or about 26 Gpc.
- 156 billion light-years
- This figure was obtained by doubling 78 billion light-years on the assumption that it is a radius. Since 78 billion light-years is already a diameter (the original paper by Cornish et al. says, “By extending the search to all possible orientations, we will be able to exclude the possibility that we live in a universe smaller than 24 Gpc in diameter,” and 24 Gpc is 78 billion light years), the doubled figure is incorrect. This figure was very widely reported. A press release from Montana State University – Bozeman, where Cornish works as an astrophysicist, noted the error when discussing a story that had appeared in Discover magazine, saying “Discover mistakenly reported that the universe was 156 billion light-years wide, thinking that 78 billion was the radius of the universe instead of its diameter.”
180 billion light-years
This estimate combines the erroneous 156 billion light-year figure with evidence that the M33 Galaxy is actually fifteen percent farther away than previous estimates and that, therefore, the Hubble constant is fifteen percent smaller. The 180 billion figure is obtained by adding 15% to 156 billion light years.
OK, friend, you lost me. You’re on your own.
I guess the point is whether or not I do, today, finally remember to buy paper towels is not super important.
Tennessee Williams in Key West
Strewn around the apartment of a friend this weekend were a few biographies of Tennessee Williams.
I don’t know much about Tennessee Williams. The most I ever thought about him was when I was briefly in Key West, where there’s some stuff named after him. He jockeys with Hemingway for local literary mascot top honors.
Looking into it, I found this stupefying article about TW in Key West from People Magazine, 1979, entitled “In His Beloved Key West, Tennessee Williams Is Center Stage In A Furor Over Gays.” Tough reading, on the one hand. On the other maybe we can find some optimism in how far things have come?:
Some of Williams’ friends are less sanguine—notably Rader (whom some Key West sympathizers find faintly hysterical on the subject). “It has been terrible,” he said in the aftermath. “Tenn won’t talk about it, but it has been really frightening what’s happening in Key West and in this house. The worst was the night they stood outside his front porch and threw beer cans, shouting, ‘Come on out, faggot.’ When they set off the firecrackers, I remember thinking, ‘God, this is it. We’re under attack. They’ve started shooting.’ ”
Williams’ imperturbability springs both from a matter of principle (he once defined gallantry as “the grace with which one survives appalling experiences”) and from a diminished interest in the Key West gay scene. “I’ve retired from the field of homosexuality at present,” he explains, “because of age. I have no desires—isn’t that strange? I have dreams, but no waking interest.” The thought does not cheer him. “I’ve always found life unsatisfactory,” he says. “It’s unsatisfactory now, especially since I’ve given up sex.” His own problems seem far more pressing to him than the city’s. “I suspect I’ll only live another two years,” says Williams, 68, who tipples white wine from morning on and complains of heart and pancreas disorders. “I’ve been working like a son of a bitch since 1969 to make an artistic comeback. I don’t care about the money, but I can’t give up art—there’s no release short of death. It’s quite painful. I’ll be dictating on my deathbed. I want people to say, ‘Yes, this man is still an artist.’ They haven’t been saying it much lately.”
As a consummate prober of human passions, Williams does have theories on why his adopted hometown is under siege. “There are punks here,” he explains. “That’s because a couple of gay magazines publicized this place as if it were the Fire Island of Florida. It isn’t. One Fire Island is quite enough. But it attracted the wrong sort of people here: the predators who are looking for homosexuals. I think the violence will be gone by next year.”
Other residents seem less willing to wait. The leader of the anti-gay forces, the Reverend Wright, says Anita Bryant has promised to come to Key West to help his crusade. Recalling nostalgically the days when “female impersonators and queers were loaded into a deputy’s automobile and shipped to the county line,” Wright warns: “We’ll either have a revival of our society or the homosexuals will take it over in five years.”
Mamet On Williams
This morning happened to pick up in my garage this book by David Mamet:
Highly recommend this book as well as Three Uses Of The Knife, True And False: Heresy And Common Sense For The Actor, and On Directing Film by Mamet. All short, all tight, all good. (His subsequent nonfiction seems to me to be a bit… deranged?)
Found this, and thought it was great:
Reading about Tennessee on Wikipedia, I learn:
As he had feared, in the years following Merlo’s death Williams was plunged into a period of nearly catatonic depression and increasing drug use resulting in several hospitalizations and commitments to mental health facilities. He submitted to injections by Dr. Max Jacobson – known popularly as Dr. Feelgood – who used increasing amounts of amphetamines to overcome his depression and combined these with prescriptions for the sedative Seconal to relieve his insomnia. Williams appeared several times in interviews in a nearly incoherent state, and his reputation both as a playwright and as a public personality suffered. He was never truly able to recoup his earlier success, or to entirely overcome his dependence on prescription drugs.
Let’s learn about Dr. Feelgood, who was also screwing up Elvis and everybody else cool back then:
John F. Kennedy first visited Jacobson in September 1960, shortly before the 1960 presidential election debates. Jacobson was part of the Presidential entourage at the Vienna summit in 1961, where he administered injections to combat severe back pain. Some of the potential side effects included hyperactivity, impaired judgment, nervousness, and wild mood swings. Kennedy, however, was untroubled by FDA reports on the contents of Jacobson’s injections and proclaimed: “I don’t care if it’s horse piss. It works.” Jacobson was used for the most severe bouts of back pain. By May 1962, Jacobson had visited the White House to treat the President thirty-four times.
By the late 1960s, Jacobson’s behavior became increasingly erratic as his own amphetamine usage increased. He began working 24-hour days and was seeing up to 30 patients per day. In 1969, one of Jacobson’s clients, former Presidential photographer Mark Shaw, died at the age of 47. An autopsy showed that Shaw had died of “acute and chronic intravenous amphetamine poisoning.”
Well, that takes us to
Born Mark Schlossman on the Lower East Side, a pilot on the India/China Hump in World War II, he became a freelance photographer for life:
In 1953, probably because of his fashion experience, Shaw was assigned to photograph the young actress Audrey Hepburn during the filming of Paramount’s Sabrina. Evasive at first, Hepburn became comfortable with Shaw’s presence over a two-week period and allowed him to record many of her casual and private moments.
He married singer Pat Suzuki, “who is best known for her role in the original Broadway production of the musical Flower Drum Song, and her performance of the song “I Enjoy Being a Girl” in the show”:
In 1959, Life chose Shaw to photograph Jacqueline Kennedy while her husband, Senator John F. Kennedy, was running for President. This assignment was the beginning of an enduring working relationship and personal friendship with the Kennedys that would eventually lead to Shaw’s acceptance as the Kennedys’ de facto “family photographer”. He visited them at theWhite House and at Hyannisport; during this time he produced his most famous photographs, portraying the couple and their children in both official and casual settings. In 1964, Shaw published a collection of these images in his book The John F. Kennedys: A Family Album, which was very successful.
Here’s another famous Jackie Mark photo’d:
What red-blooded American hasn’t considered suicide?
HIGHEST recommendation to Marc Maron’s interview with St. Vincent. A truly fantastic interview with a person who can’t seem to say anything except in some intriguing, innovative way. Super cool.
A fun twist in my listening experience: I was skipping over the first ten minutes as is my way with WTF Podcast, but because there’s a mini-interview or teaser at the beginning, I listened to about five minutes of Andrea Martin, thinking she was St. Vincent:
A trippy misunderstanding.
One thing St. Vincent said is that, as a kind of resolution, she’s stopped reading the Internet, and she’s found — whether it’s causation or correlation — that she’s been more present, has more interesting conversations with people she comes across.
Unachievable goal for me, but I am gonna continue to think about this, she’s onto something here.
Today I looked at Drudge Report, as I so often do, and was like “what the fuck am I doing looking at this garbage?” Some headlines from Drudge today, punctuation is sic:
Students slam Michelle O lunch rules: Mayo banned
‘SEX SLAVE’ MET QUEEN
PAPER: Unending Anxiety of ‘ICYMI’ World…
Man posts bail — with sneakers…
BABIES WITH ‘THREE PARENTS’ TO BE LEGAL WITHIN WEEKS…
RISE OF THE MACHINES: ROBOTS LEARN WATCHING YOUTUBE!
Al Qaeda warns of new ‘undetectable’ bombs to be used against US…
Egypt defence lawyers challenge police in gay bathhouse case…
Do I need this garbage in my life?
(Hey serious q: if any HelyTimes readers know some best practices for using photos from the internet on your non-profit blog please lemme know. Can’t find a source for that St. Vincent photo, not sure how hard I should try/worry about that)
Had a slight crush on Elly May from The Beverly Hillbillies (pictured, left, above) which was on TV somehow in my youth.
The Beverly Hillbillies was more influential than people give it credit for. At one time I looked into remaking it but the rights situation made it unfeasible for me. Also, we might already have that story on TV in other forms. Watching funny rubes who have a lots of money but aren’t “high class” fills a lot of TV hours.
Newer versions though often forget to include a well-meaning, restraining if stodgy character like Mr. Drysdale, the banker:
and his loyal secretarial assistant, Miss Jane Hathaway, whom Wikipedia describes as “the love-starved bird-watching perennial spinster”:
The actress who played Miss Hathaway, Nancy Kulp, seems pretty interesting:
Kulp received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Florida State University in 1943, then known as the Florida State College for Women, and she started pursuing a master’s degree in English and French at the University of Miami. Early in the 1940s she worked as a feature writer for the Miami Beach Tropics newspaper, writing profiles of celebrities, including Clark Gable and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
In 1944 Kulp left the University of Miami to volunteer for service in the US Naval Reserve during World War II. As a member of theWAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Ltjg. Kulp received several decorations, including the American Campaign Medal,
Kulp moved to Hollywood, California, not long after she married Charles Malcolm Dacus (in April 1951), to work in a studio publicitydepartment, where director George Cukor convinced her that she should work in front of a camera.
She later ran for as a Democrat for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 9th District:
To her dismay, Hillbillies co-star Buddy Ebsen called the Shuster campaign and volunteered to make a radio campaign ad in which he called Kulp ” too liberal.” Kulp said of Ebsen, “‘He’s not the kindly old Jed Clampett that you saw on the show… It’s none of his business and he should have stayed out of it.‘ She said she and Ebsen ‘didn’t get along because I found him difficult to work with. But I never would have done something like this to him.'” Garnering 59,449 votes, or just 33.6% to Shuster’s 117,203 votes and 66.4%, she lost.
The life of Raymond Bailey, who played Mr. Drysdale, seems pretty interesting too:
Having no success getting any kind of movie roles, Bailey then went to New York where he had no better success getting roles in theatre. Eventually he became a crewman on a freighter and began sailing to various parts of the world, including China, Japan, the Philippines and the Mediterranean. While docked in Hawaii, he worked on a pineapple plantation, acted at the community theatre and sang on a local radio program.
In 1938, he decided to try Hollywood again. His luck changed for the better when he actually began getting some bit parts in movies, but after the United States entered World War II he joined the Merchant Marine and went back to sea. When the war was over he returned to Hollywood and eventually began getting bigger character roles.
Buddy Ebsen also spent time at sea:
Ebsen served as damage control officer and later as executive officer on the Coast Guard-manned Navyfrigate USS Pocatello, which recorded weather at its “weather station” 1,500 miles west of Seattle, Washington. These patrols consisted of 30 days at sea, followed by 10 days in port at Seattle.
Rest in p Donna D. We’ll always remember you for your classic Twilight Zone episode as well:
A Chance Encounter With Pete Carroll
One Sunday afternoon, a few years ago, I was drinking in a bar on Hermosa Beach (I believe but am not certain it was The Poop Deck) when I saw USC Trojans head football coach Pete Carroll ride by the front door on a bike.
He was with a handsome woman, his wife I guessed, and as they rode along saw somebody they appeared to know. Pete and his wife stopped to talk to him.
From where I was in the dark of the bar, the sunlight in the doorway framed Coach Carroll perfectly, it was like the last shot of The Searchers.
We couldn’t hear what Coach was saying. But watching him talk was mesmerizing. Engaged, upbeat, demonstrative: I couldn’t look away. The whole scene was compelling. Who was this chilled out beach boardwalk motivator? What was his life?
The Inner Game
Some time after that I found a copy of The Inner Game Of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey at my friend’s house. The only times I’ve ever played tennis I embarrassed myself, but I like “inner games,” and reading about tennis, so I read it.
The book blasted my head open.
Here is a very crude summary of Gallwey’s ideas as I understood them: when you do something like play tennis, sometimes you can split into a self that’s doing the actions, and a self that’s observing, judging, intellectually assessing: critical. That second self can easily slip into becoming abusive. You screw up a shot and you’re like “dammit, so STUPID!”
When that happens, Gallwey asks, who is yelling at who? What’s going on here?
This struck me re: writing. (Or really, any creative work.)
You’ve got your creator self, and your critical self. You need them both: all one and you’ll write stream of consciousness garbage, all the other and you’ll never write anything. But how do you get them to work together?
Gallwey says: we will improve (and have more fun) when we get these two selves aligned. When the critical self isn’t pissed at the performing self, but instead simply, non-brutally observes what is happening.
She instilled in me a great curiosity about how the world works, along with an overall sense of optimism and possibility. She used to say: “Something good is just about to happen.” I still believe that today.
For breakfast, he eats two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies; for lunch, a salad of iceberg lettuce, turkey, and tomatoes. The regular menu, he says, saves him the time of deciding what to eat each day, and speaks to a broader tendency to habituate his behaviors. Saban comes to this system by instinct rather than by adherence to some productivity guru’s system. When I try to engage him in a discussion of the latest research on habit formation, he hits me with a look his assistants call the bug zapper, for its ability to fry all who encounter it; he has no idea what I’m talking about.
The site of the first Father’s Day on July 5, 1908, originally celebrated in honor of the more than 200 fathers lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier.
The inability to clear the mine of gases transformed the rescue effort into a recovery effort. Only one man, a Hungarian by the name of John Tomko, was rescued from the mine. The official death toll stood at 362, but it is possible the number is much higher since mining companies at the time did not keep accurate records of their workers.
When they were teenagers, an explosion at the mine where Saban’s grandfather worked killed 78. (His grandfather was spared because he was off-shift.) It was a place where you knew not to complain; someone always had it worse.
Big Nick, the son of Croatian immigrants, also had a sense of fairness unusual for the place and the times. He took heat from some locals for treating black customers the same as whites at his Dairy Queen. And when he learned that an African-American player on the Black Diamonds named Kerry Marbury didn’t have a father around, Big Nick took him in. Marbury, who went on to become a star running back at West Virginia, says he was accepted so completely by the Sabans that he was effectively shielded from racism as a child. “I was very confused when I got out in the world and found out how much prejudice there really was,” he tells me.
Marbury and Saban became close friends as kids, and later, each served as the other’s best man. In the ’80s, after football, Marbury was busted for drugs, and went to prison for two and a half years for probation violation. The day he got out of jail, he said, Saban called and sent money to help him get a fresh start. Marbury went on to get his master’s degree and now serves as an administrator of public safety at a small West Virginia university. “I got where I am all as a result of him caring about me when no one else did.”
Respect for the man. Feel he is underserved by his book.
But maybe: that’s the point. Pete Carroll’s book is compelling because it’s about a guy wondering if there’s another way to do this, if he can adapt himself and his mentality to football success. He’s excited by the idea, he tells how he came up with it, and he pulls it off.
The point of Saban’s book might be: there is no secret. There is no trick. Discipline, hard work, drilling things again and again until you can do them the right way, focusing on doing everything right and not on results — it ain’t easy but it’s simple.
Good to think about.
Apologies if I made any football errors in this post, don’t let me fool you into thinking I know shit about the game compared to serious fans. With that said, here’s my picks for the BCS:
Alabama will then play:
who will defeat
(Oregon coach Mark Helfrich doesn’t seem that interesting, although it’s cool he’s from Oregon. Unless this actually is his memoir I don’t think I’ll read it. Can’t say I’m all that curious about Urban Meyer either, although it is interesting that both he and Saban are Catholic. Also interesting that Urban Meyer is the only of these coaches to be coaching his alma mater.
I did take a look at this Kindle book:
where the fact that Saban and Meyer both seem to “enjoy” coaching football or at least hate not doing it is described under the chapter heading “Hedonism.” I don’t think that’s an appropriate word for these mens’ lives.
I’d love to read Jimbo Fisher’s memoir. If I didn’t mishear, once watched him say Jameis Winston’s ability to not worry at all about how he’d been charged with sexual assault was a testament to his character.
Fisher earned the nickname Slim Jimbo because of his affinity for meat snacks. He has mentioned in numerous interviews that he wishes to launch an organic beef jerky company after he retires from coaching. The company would feature jerky made from animals native to both the Deep South and his native West Virginia, such as alligator, muskrat, and wild boar.)
Then at the national championship game on Jan. 12:
Puzzle: given that this is close to a random guess, although I factored in these odds (plus my feeling from reading Saban’s book) what are the odds I picked this right? 12.5%? I could be proven completely wrong in a few hours.)
In the Super Bowl: