Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Matters of Scale...

The Bad Astronomy Blog just put up this. My interest is in the picture comparing the hurricane and the galaxy.

It's not exactly a new concept for me, but the universe tends to organize things in spirals. It's so prevalent that it permeates every part of our existence. Water spirals. Air spirals. Magnetics spiral. Space-time itself spirals. It can even be said that solid matter "spirals", if you expand the concept of "spiral" to a few more dimensions.

Are you familiar with atomic and sub-atomic theory? The idea of electron clouds, for example. I would bet that they act more like spirals than we think.

Then you have the opposite of spirals: every time matter shows up doing something incomprehensibly mathematical. For example, when you heat a pan of water and get perfect hexagons - a honeycomb of water. Or when you freeze ice, or look at crystals: regular grid patterns.

I won't try to explain why they happen, but they happen. Similar events can even happen to clouds!

So... does it happen on a galactic scale?

Not all galaxies are spiral. But, so far as I know, none of them are honeycomb-shaped.

Maybe they're just not dense enough? In which case, could star patterns near black holes be found to have an unusual "honeycomb" or "lattice" shape in unusual situations?

Just curious. I've never heard of anything like it, so they probably stick to spirals. But it is an interesting idea. You could easily base a scifi universe off it. :)

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