Finding Darkness In The Light: How Vera Rubin Changed The Universe
“Instead, the speeds rose rapidly, but then leveled off. As you moved farther away from a galaxy’s core, the stars’ rotation speeds didn’t drop, but rather leveled off to a constant value. The rotation curves, unexpectedly, were flat. Rubin’s work began in the Andromeda galaxy, our closest large, galactic neighbor, but quickly was extended to dozens of galaxies, which all showed the same effects. Today, that number is in the thousands, and our multiwavelength, advanced surveys have shown that it can’t be missing atoms, ions, plasmas, gas, dust, planets or asteroids that account for the mass. Either something is screwy with the laws of gravity on galactic (and larger) scales, or there’s some type of unseen mass in the Universe.”
When you look at a galaxy in the night sky, it’s easy to imagine that it’s just a system of masses like our Solar System, except on a larger scale. Instead of a single, central mass, you have many stars responsible for the galaxy’s gravitational pull. The stars revolving around the galactic center feel the tug from all the other stars and orbit accordingly, with the inner stars orbiting quickly and the outermost ones – the ones most distant from the gravitational sources – orbiting more slowly, just like the planets. At least, that’s what you’d expect. But when the techniques and the technologies for measuring this finally came to fruition, the result was a colossal surprise: the stars in a galaxy didn’t determine the galaxy’s mass or rotation properties. In fact, if you went out and measured the gas, dust, plasma, planets and everything else we can observe in the galaxy, they don’t explain it either. Something unseen and invisible was influencing the way galaxies behave.
Strictly speaking, Dr. Hix, spelled with an X, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hicks, but a man who wears a black robe with nasty symbols on it and has a skull ring would be mad, or let us say even madder, to pass up the chance to have an X in his name.
When I get bummed out and convinced I’m not *actually* a writer, I think about Rincewind.
Rincewind, in case you don’t know, is a character from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. There’s only two things you really need to know about Rincewind:
1)He’s a wizard
2)He’s the worst fucking wizard on the face of the Disk
It’s true. It’s pointed out multiple times, by both Rincewind and others, that he is the sorriest excuse of a wizard to exist. He failed out of the Unseen University (a much more kid-friendly Hogwarts); he can’t remember any spells; he’s altogether awful at what he is.
And yet, he’s still a wizard.
Yes, he sucks at it. Yeah, literally anyone could do it better than him. Yeah, he’s been told that by all accounts, he shouldn’t be a wizard at all.
But he’s still a wizard. He gets very defensive about it, too. He will defend the fact that he is a wizard, however terrible, to the grave (and probably back, too, because Death’s daughter will scare you right back to life). And I think that is just amazing. He knows exactly what he is – he *knows* he’s a wizard.
When I look at my writing and I see an impassable tar pit of impossible mistakes, of contrived, boring plots, or I look at another’s work and see how far away I am from them and wonder if I have the resolve to try and catch up (and most likely fail), I think about Rincewind. I think about knowing what you are, and fighting tooth and nail for it, even when you suck at it.
So get on your Wizzard hat and keep doing the thing you love, because, let’s face it, you’d only put yourself through this kind of hell for something you love.
The senior wizards of Unseen University stood and looked at the door. There was no doubt that however had shut it wanted it to stay shut. Dozens of nails secured it to the door frame. Planks had been nailed right across. And finally it had, up until this morning, been hidden by a bookcase that had been put in front of it. “And there’s the sign, Ridcully,” said the Dean. “You have read it, I assume. You know? The sign which says ‘Do not, under any circumstances, open this door’?” “Of course I’ve read it,” said Ridcully. “Why d’yer think I want it opened?” “Er… why?” said the Lecturer in Recent Runes. “To see why they wanted it shut, of course.”*
*This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.
– on human civilization |
Terry Pratchett, Hogfather
I‘m currently working on a project about the representation of librarians and libraries in science-fiction, fantasy, manga and anime. I’ve already made a list of some characters like Irma Pince, the librarian of Unseen University, the alien library in H. P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time, etc.
Do you know famous fictional librarians and libraries in science-fiction / fantasy novels or movies, anime and manga?
'And therefore I propose that we perform the Rite of AshkEnte,' said Galder dramatically.
He had to admit that he had hoped for a better response, something on the lines of, well, 'No, not the Rite of AshkEnte! Man was not meant to meddle with such things!' In fact there was a general mutter of approval.
Spirituality is the most important aspect of life - get your spiritual beingness correct and the other areas of your life, such as food, shelter, clothing, family and friends will be provided by the unseen power of the universe.
( author of The Spiritual Laws of Money and other books on the law of attraction.)
‘Today the city, tomorrow the world,’ said someone at the back of the crowd.
'Tomorrow the world, and–’ he calculated quickly–'on Friday the universe!’
That leaves the weekend free, thought Spelter.
The senior wizards of Unseen University stood and looked at the door.
There was no doubt that whoever had shut it wanted it to stay shut. Dozens of nails secured it to the door frame. Planks had been nailed right across. And finally it had, up until this morning, been hidden by a bookcase that had been put in front of it.
“And there’s the sign, Ridcully,” said the Dean. “You have read it, I assume. You know? The sign which says ‘Do not, under any circumstances, open this door’?”
“Of course I’ve read it,” said Ridcully. “Why d’yer think I want it opened?”
“Er…why?” said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.
“To see why they wanted it shut, of course.”*
* This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.
The Discworld Atlas has been compiled under the aegis of the Unseen University’s Department of Cruel and Unusual Geography, benefiting from the expert knowledge of Professor Rincewind, whose recollection of his travels is so remarkably clear that he did not find it necessary to revisit any location to further the department’s work on this volume.
–Introduction to The Compleat Discworld Atlas | Terry Pratchett and the Discworld Emporium, The Compleat Discworld Atlas