Monday, October 22, 2012

Order, Disorder

I’m not particularly knowledgeable on interstellar science; merely fascinated by the awesomely beautiful pictures that are the result. This article, however, is rather interesting, in its observation that galaxies go from being disordered masses of stars to gradually forming the orderly spiral discs such as our own Milky Way.

Parenthetically, the idea that we’re looking at something and seeing it as it looked eight billion years ago because it took that long for the image to reach us blows my mind. I get it, I understand the principle fully, but it still blows my mind.

The odd thing about that, to me, is that it seems to be opposite to the principle that most things in nature tend toward disorder. When you have things in nice neat orderly systems, they tend to naturally disintegrate rather than the reverse. Just look at the ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon, for instance, or try to build a stack of bowling balls.

But then you realize that our own Solar System coalesced out of a cloud of debris, so perhaps it’s a matter of scale. On a human scale, we are a pretty disorderly bunch (no question about that!), but gravitationally and cosmically the universe is highly orderly.

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