Seven to 10 billion years ago, a bunch of galaxies fell in with a bad crowd at the Coma cluster — a galactic group comprising thousands of their ilk. That crash “quenched” the ill-fated galaxies. They’d never again burn with hot, young stars. But the crash should have done more than shut down the unfortunate galaxies’ stellar birth rate. It should have strewn their stars across space.
So what kept these cosmic corpses intact? Read on, if you dare (OK, so the title is a bit of a hint …).
One of the many things I enjoy about teaching my university class, Science, Feuds, Scandals and Hoaxes, is the opportunity to explore some of the most outrageous ideas ever to gain traction in the public mind. It’s easy to make fun today, but some of these ideas were grounded in reasoning that, though flawed, eventually gave rise to the right answer. Then again, there’s really no defending those doctors who thought that woman was giving birth to rabbit parts.
Cosmos is back, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is tooling around the universe in Carl Sagan’s Ship of the Imagination. But suppose someone handed you the proverbial keys? Where in space and/or time would you go?
If you don’t have a ready answer, never fear. I’ve put together an itinerary that can’t fail, whether your tastes run to science or sightseeing. Sure, we might have to break a few physical laws and grow a few extra senses along the way but, hey, it’s not called the Ship of Literal Reality, is it? So hang your fuzzy planets from the rearview and strap in for a star-spanning tour, a jaunt from the local neighborhood to the unreachably distant (and disproportionately dangerous) corners of the universe, en route to…