We’ve been warned about the dangers of discussing politics and religion, and yet does anyone head that warning anymore? Well, Human Resources still would like for us to keep controversial topics out of the workplace. Fair enough. However, we used to advise people to stick to topics like the weather. But wait, now with the climate change movement, the weather has become controversial. So in order to find topics that are not too controversial, but are also more stimulating than discussing a reality television show, I went in search of material. Here are a few modest examples of polite conversation.
The Hubble Constant. For years we’ve heard we should expand our minds, and guard against expanding waistlines. Now, there is significant evidence that the universe is expanding at an even faster rate than once thought. That’s right! Apparently the universe is said to be expanding an additional four feet per second per megaparsec, for a total of 44.7 feet per second per megaparsec. Even knowing that one megaparsec is about 3.26 million light-years, I can’t quite wrap my arms around what all this means.
Well, Switzerland claims their method to measure the Hubble Constant is simple. After all the only variables considered are geometry and general relativity. Is that all? I think my brain is hurting from the expansion pains. Maybe I should go eat a Twinkie.
Seriously, the article in Scientific American is a fascinating read. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cosmic-lenses-show-universe-expanding-surprisingly-fast/
But the reference to a “cosmic yardstick” made me shiver. I still have trouble converting to the metric system. But that is not as concerning as statements like “dark matter…vastly outweighs normal matter.” Is this akin to the dark side in literature or even in Star Wars?
Careful, we’ll end up in forbidden topics of conversation if we talk too much about measuring with a “cosmic yardstick.”
Murdering Galaxies. Well, after continuing my read, I was starting to feel better, until I leaped over to The Royal Astronomical Society’s website where I promptly was slapped in the face with the concept that someone/something is murdering galaxies. What? Well, watch out for this spoiler alert. The “ram” did it (in a manner of speaking). To learn about this murderous “ram-pressure stripping,” click on over to https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2945-a-galaxy-murder-mystery . Of course I’m not sure what it says about polite conversation when murder or stripping (in a manner of speaking) are suitable topics of conversation, but not religion or politics.
Haumea and Hi’iaka, yes. Harassment, no. Looking for more safe topics? Take a peek at the American Astronomical Society. By now you’ve heard of the tiny planet beyond Neptune, Haumea. Well apparently Haumea’s moon, Hi’iaka, revolves on its axis every 9.8 hours which is “roughly 120 times faster than the expected synchronous rate.” http://aasnova.org/2017/01/27/hiiaka-haumeas-rapidly-spinning-moon/ . Trivia or a tongue twister? You decide.
I hope you can use these simple, easy to discuss, non-controversial topics of conversation. If you are so inclined, share some of your own. Maybe next time I’ll share recipes instead!