Mike Beversluis

Monday, March 16, 2009

A thief in the night

I went to an astronomy lecture Saturday, and I learned a couple of things:

1) The mass in the total universe is thought to exactly balance the energy in the universe's expansion, so that the total universe weighs nothing.

2) Betelgeuse, a star Michael Keaton made famous in the 1980's, is a red supergiant located about 600 light-years away. This is not known precisely, but is a ballpark estimate. You could click through for the wiki-summary of this, but the upshot is that it's likely to go supernova in the next 10 million years or so, or it may already have, say 599.9 years ago. We are located away from what would likely be a completely deadly spurt of gamma rays, but are still close enough that its effects will be very strong or even devastating to the earth - blowing our atmosphere away or giving everyone cancer. So that's something to think about.

3) I forget.

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