Okay, listen, if you’ve been smoking any of the old wacky tabacky, I need you to put it down and eat something and then take a nap and get a cup of coffee before you read this, because you are in grave danger of having your mind blown. Listen to the startling information that Shawn texted to me yesterday:
Apparently, the same crew of scientists who thought we would get excited about arsenic-thriving bacteria from California decided that we wouldn’t be too interested in their new estimates about how many stars there are in the universe, and in our galaxy, and also in the average galaxy – so they didn’t call a press conference about it.
I’d love to pretend like I understand what they’re talking about in this article right here, which seems to support Shawn’s mind-blowing text, but I’m only grasping the tail end of it. Generally speaking, there are a lot more stars than they thought.
Now, I am going to start throwing extremely large and weird-sounding numbers at you, and I’ll tell you right now, they’re probably wrong because I was unable to read that entire article without weeping and whacking my head against the desk. Just being gargantuan numbers is enough though – precise accuracy isn’t too important to my point here. So you are welcome to correct me, but you’re not going to make me feel stupid because I already do.
Anyway, the new current estimate is that there are about 300 septillion stars in our galaxy. I don’t know, the article seems like it says sextillion instead of septillion, but I’m going to have to go with Shawn on this one. I don’t know this fella who wrote the article – he could be nuts.
So there’s nothing particularly spectacular about learning that the number of stars in our galaxy has gone from one impossible-for-the-human-mind-to-really-comprehend number to that same number times three. All that means is it’s three times more incomprehensible.
What we’re talking about here is about seventeen million metric shitloads of stars, if that helps.
Now, you might think that a good way to get our minds around that number would be to compare it to something we can come closer to comprehending. I remember in school they used to talk about the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world, but guess what – that’s impossible to comprehend, too.
See, we’re not going to find a way to express the incomprehensible in a way that makes sense. That’s what it means to be incomprehensible. But comprehending the number isn’t the point. Let me just go ahead and compare it – as Shawn did in his Text Which Nearly Caused Me To Crash My Car Even Though I Was In The Drive Thru At White Castle – to another incomprehensible number.
Like the average number of cells in the human body – about 50 trillion. Actually, that’s a little closer to being a number we can comprehend. In order to get up to where it’s incomprehensible, you have to multiply it by the number of people on Earth (about six billion). Then you’d be looking at the number of cells in the bodies of every human being on Earth combined.
And it’s incomprehensible, all right. It is in fact the same incomprehensible number we started with.
Yes, that is correct – at least it is if you define “astronomical research” as “getting a text message from Shawn”, which I do. The number of stars in our galaxy appears to be equal to the number of cells in the bodies of the entire human race combined.
Now, from this, Shawn stopped short of concluding that clearly, we’re all brain cells in the magnificent, eons-old, galactic Mind of God Himself, that our conciousnesses comprise every conceivable thought and dream of the Almighty, and that we can now halt all scientific research because nothing will ever get more interesting than that.
No, Shawn described it as “amusing.” And also seemed to imply that, you know, since we thought there were one third that many stars yesterday, we’re probably just going to think something else later on. Don’t go attaching too much significance to it, Shawn seems to think, cause it’s just a bunch of numbers.
But that’s not what this bottle of whiskey right here thinks. This bottle of whiskey thinks, that’s it, we found God, and we’re his cells, and the reason we need to be good is because being bad is like cancer or infection. Being bad makes God itch – and listen to me, I’ll bet That Guy can scratch.
Now don’t get too excited, Christians or Muslims or Jews or Scientologists or anyone else, because the astronomers who figured this out did not get a look at the Universe’s ID. They don’t know His name, whether it’s God (seems unlikely, since that’s English and there wasn’t any English when the universe was created) or whatever that name was that Indiana Jones had to spell out in Last Crusade (seems more likely) or whether maybe it’s just a big, sleepy, Stephen King Turtle, who’s just swimming through the cosmos thinking stuff, and we’re the stuff.
All they know is, those two numbers are pretty close to equal. And yes, the universe is expanding, and yes, so is the population of Earth. That’s good enough for me. I’m going to go to the library and get a copy of Starting A Cult For Dummies. Anyone with a huge, secluded compound should give me a ringy-ding, cause I think I’m on the market for one.
Okay then, well I’m glad I could clear all that up for you. Please proceed with your normal Saturday activities.