August 18, 2008
Do you have a favourite galaxy? I do.
While I’m partial to the Milky Way for obvious reasons (although, dorky name guys. Right up there with Uranus. Sorry, but get with the programme) my current favourite is NGC 4622.
It spins backwards.
The arms of a galaxy tend to trail behind it, as you would expect. Stir the milk into your tea and watch as the ‘arms’ of milk trail behind the spinning core.
Not my favourite galaxy though. The arms spin forwards of the core.
This might be the result of a collision between two galaxies, but then again it might not.
The reason why I like this is that it’s a very vivid reminder: we might think we know all there is to know about the universe but we don’t. The Victorians used to boast (apparently) about how they’d discovered all there was to discover and that was that. History was done. They hadn’t even got electricity sorted out at that stage.
So any time I think about faster than light travel, immortality, parallel universes, life on other worlds or any of the other impossibilities (including, funnily enough, religion) I tend to think about NGC 4622.