Our galaxy's 'geysers' are towers of power

Jan 02, 2013
This shows the “geysers” (in blue) shooting out of the Milky Way. Credit: Optical image – A. Mellinger, U.Central Michigan; radio image – E. Carretti, CSIRO; radio data – S-PASS team; composition – E. Bresser, CSIRO

"Monster" outflows of charged particles from the centre of our Galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope. Corresponding to the "Fermi Bubbles" found in 2010, the outflows were detected by astronomers from Australia, the USA, Italy and The Netherlands. The finding is reported in today's issue of Nature.

"These outflows contain an extraordinary amount of energy—about a million times the energy of an ," said the research team's leader, CSIRO's Dr Ettore Carretti.

But the outflows pose no danger to Earth or the Solar System.

The speed of the outflow is supersonic, about 1000 kilometres a second. "That's fast, even for astronomers," Dr Carretti said. "They are not coming in our direction, but go up and down from the Galactic Plane. We are 30,000 light-years away from the Galactic Centre, in the Plane. They are no danger to us."

From top to bottom the outflows extend 50,000 light-years [five hundred thousand million million kilometres] out of the . That's equal to half the diameter of our Galaxy (which is 100,000 light-years—a million million million kilometres—across).

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This is Ettore Carretti talking about how the telescope makes maps of the sky. Credit: CSIRO

Seen from Earth, the outflows stretch about two-thirds across the sky from horizon to horizon. The outflows correspond to a "haze" of microwave emission previously spotted by the WMAP and Planck space telescopes and regions of detected with NASA's Fermi in 2010, which were dubbed the "Fermi Bubbles".

The WMAP, Planck and Fermi observations did not provide enough evidence to indicate definitively the source of the radiation they detected, but the new Parkes observations do.

"The options were a quasar-like outburst from the black hole at the Galactic Centre, or star-power—the hot winds from , and exploding stars," said team member Dr Gianni Bernardi of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Our observations tell us it's star-power."

In fact, the outflows appear to have been driven by many generations of stars forming and exploding in the Galactic Centre over the last hundred million years.

The key to determining this was to measure the outflows' magnetic fields.

"We did this by measuring a key property of the radio waves from the outflows—their polarisation," said team member Dr Roland Crocker of the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Australian National University.

The new observations also help to answer one of astronomers' big questions about our Galaxy: how it generates and maintains its magnetic field. "The outflow from the is carrying off not just gas and high-energy electrons, but also strong magnetic fields," said team member Dr Marijke Haverkorn of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands.

"We suspect this must play a big part in generating the Galaxy's overall magnetic field."

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El_Nose
5 / 5 (7) Jan 02, 2013
question to physorg people

which is more clear to you ?
1 trillion -or- 1 million million
1 quintillion -or- 1 million million million
kevinrtrs
1.1 / 5 (28) Jan 02, 2013
"We suspect this must play a big part in generating the Galaxy's overall magnetic field."

Currently, no plausible big bang mechanism exists for the very existence of galactic magnetic fields. Hence this researcher is simply grasping at straws with this statement. S/he is certainly right in wanting this observation to be an explanation for the existence of the fields, but alas, it would be in complete contradiction of the big bang theory's speculation on the formation of galaxies if it were!
Actual, real, observed measurements of galactic magnetic fields currently confirm predictions made by the creationist model of the formation of the universe. But of course this is not accepted by the supporters of the existing paradigm. So the galatic magnetic mystery will continue irrespective of this current observation. There's no way to confirm that this observation is actually the source of the galactic magnetic fields.
Lurker2358
2 / 5 (12) Jan 02, 2013
question to physorg people

which is more clear to you ?
1 trillion -or- 1 million million
1 quintillion -or- 1 million million million


The shorter term (trillion/quintillion,) is more clear in most cases. I figure writers shouldn't use the longer language except for ridiculously larger terms, like maybe nineillion or octodecillion.

However, I read a lot of science and math.

It seems ordinary people don't realize that a trillion is one million million.

For example, I doubt most Americans realize what a trillion dollars is, even if they know how to write the number.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Jan 02, 2013
which is more clear to you ? 1 trillion -or- 1 million million 1 quintillion -or- 1 million million million

What's wrong with light years? a million million million whatevers is so mindboggling big that you can't get a mental grasp on it, anyhow. lightyears at least give you a measure about how long a go the stuff was spotted and how long it would get us to reach it (or it to reach us) under optimal conditions.

If they really want to go with kilometers I prefer scientific notation.
frajo
4.5 / 5 (11) Jan 02, 2013
1 American trillion = 10**12
1 European trillion = 10**18

1 American quintillion = 10**18
1 European quintillion = 10**30

It's better to stick to the digits.
Q-Star
3.6 / 5 (14) Jan 02, 2013
"We suspect this must play a big part in generating the Galaxy's overall magnetic field."

Currently, no plausible big bang mechanism exists for the very existence of galactic magnetic fields.


What? That's like saying 2 plus 2 equals four has no plausible mechanism for 23 minus 6 equaling 17.

Actual, real, observed measurements of galactic magnetic fields currently confirm predictions made by the creationist model of the formation of the universe.


You mean like "poof,,,, now it's here"? That is a great model. Too bad that it predicts everything (after the fact.)
Mike_Massen
3.3 / 5 (14) Jan 02, 2013
kevinrtrs hit the nail squarely
There's no way to confirm that this observation is actually the source of the galactic magnetic fields.
You have squarely stated your deity kevinrtrs, cant communicate to provide any detailed information at all, tah ?

You kevinrtrs are totally dependent upon a STATIC source of idea about a deity, one that needs a rib from Adam to make a female, one that punishes *all* kids for a desire by a young adult when faced with a powerful angel.

Are you a brainwashed idiot there kevinrtrs, do you have any sense of logic kevinrtrs, anything which supports the view of the bible that your deity kevinrtrs isn't impotent & can only communicate through ONE person (Moses).

Does that make your deity kevinrtrs a great communicator or f..king lazy dick !

What are the attributes of your deity kevinrtrs when he takes off & lets a serpent hypnotise a 11 year old girl (Eve) & your deity doesnt enter into any dialectic.

What an impotent fool is your deity, kevinrtrs ?
sirchick
3 / 5 (2) Jan 02, 2013
1 American trillion = 10**12
1 European trillion = 10**18

1 American quintillion = 10**18
1 European quintillion = 10**30

It's better to stick to the digits.


Pretty sure scientists universally use the same to avoid that level of confusion.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2013
Dr Gianni Bernardi of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Our observations tell us it's star-power."


Actually, it is "star power", or the energy with which powers the stars and galaxy. The galactic magnetic field is caused by the interacting plasmoids which are twisting about each other creating the galaxy and these "geysers" are the birkeland currents exiting the galaxy.

Fleetfoot
4.7 / 5 (14) Jan 02, 2013
Currently, no plausible big bang mechanism exists for the very existence of galactic magnetic fields.


ROFLMAO, since the first galaxies formed millions of years after the "big bang", that's hardly surprising.

Actual, real, observed measurements of galactic magnetic fields currently confirm predictions made by the creationist model of the formation of the universe. But of course this is not accepted by the supporters of the existing paradigm.


Since the creationist belief is "everything appeared ready-made by magic a few thousand years ago (including light in transit from galaxies billions of light years away)", there is no model to accept.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.7 / 5 (10) Jan 02, 2013
Nice complement to earlier awesome MW jet structures!

And an interesting putative source for interstellar magnetic fields.

@ El Nose: Since there are short & long format nations, neither. Spelling it out is fine but awkward, the SI system is better: 100 000 ly ~ 10^21 m or 1 Zm (1 zetta meters).

@ kevintrs: Magnetic fields are not part of our inflationary standard cosmology, which supersedes the old "big bang" cosmology. So it isn't a problem for it either.

We have many ideas for magnetic field generation. And some, who are cosmological in scope, may be incorporated into cosmology one day.

There are obvious ways to see if these jets are sources. By comparing how much field they transport with predictions, it is possible to test the hypothesis.

There is certainly no alternative cosmology.

@ cantdrive: There is no evidence or predictive for EU/PC religion (which is why it is unsubstantiated belief), but OTOH this article yields another rejection of yet another field source.
RealScience
5 / 5 (12) Jan 02, 2013
Actual, real, observed measurements of galactic magnetic fields currently confirm predictions made by the creationist model of the formation of the universe.


@kevin - put up or shut up. If you have a model that makes accurate predictions, write it up and submit it to an astrophysics magazine. That would be much more effective than making unsupported comment on science web sites.
that_guy
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 02, 2013
1. Don't feed the trolls (Kevinrts)
2. I think a Trillion is the largest single word that average people have an accurate relative concept (a thousand billions, which is a thousand millions...etc.)
3. Except for the british. WTF? Really? 18 zeros? This is not comment to all of europe, but primarily to the UK. Here in america, we still suffer with other imperial measurements.
4. I think we can all agree that the British should be completely revoked from measuring anything or come up with any type of measuring systems.

Really:
2240 pounds in a British ton. (A metric ton is 2204)
5280 feet in an imperial mile.
14 pounds in a British stone.
and troy ounces and pounds and grains, which have no relation to other pounds or ounces, and have different conversions (12 troy ounces in a troy pound, for example.)
Try converting british money before 1971...12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to a pound...

Seriously, fuck the british and them measuring anything.
rollsthepaul
1 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2013
The wave is approaching from the centre of our galaxy, on the 7 LY thick disc, that is our entire galaxy. Everyone on Earth will experience the wave. This is all natural and happens to all galaxies. The wave is "intelligent" and will "lay bare" the soul of every human on Earth. It will arrive in the first half of 2013. See link on YT

/watch?v=1q2Du_DkKbo
jibbles
5 / 5 (1) Jan 03, 2013
boy i'd love to see these hi-res composite visualizations in a planetarium!
casualjoe
1 / 5 (1) Jan 03, 2013
The uk use the same indexing as the rest of the world, a billion is 10^9, just to clarify for y'alls.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2013
Just to give you an idea how many/which countries do/don't use the metric system.
http://www.joeyde...stem.jpg
frajo
4.3 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2013
The uk use the same indexing as the rest of the world, a billion is 10^9, just to clarify for y'alls.

Your knowledge about "the rest of the world" is lacking.

Have a look here:
http://de.wikiped...illiarde (German)
http://fr.wikiped...Billiard (French)
http://it.wikiped...umero%29 (Italian)
http://ru.wikiped...BE%D0%BD (Russian)
http://hu.wikiped...%C3%A1rd (Hungarian)
http://pl.wikiped.../Biliard (Polish)
http://sv.wikiped...28tal%29 (Swedish)
http://nl.wikiped.../Biljard (Dutch)
http://no.wikiped...Billiard (Norwegian)
http://is.wikiped...%C3%B0ur (Icelandic)
http://cs.wikiped...Biliarda (Czech)

And now go and figure the consequences of all these languages having numerals unknown to US-Americans.

Milione, miliardo, bilione, biliardo, trilione, triliardo, quadrilione, quadriliardo ...
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2013
1. Don't feed the trolls (Kevinrts)

This is not comment to all of europe, but primarily to the UK. Here in america, we still suffer with other imperial measurements.

2240 pounds in a British ton. (A metric ton is 2204)


In the UK, we generally use tonnes (1000kg).

5280 feet in an imperial mile.


Roads are signposted in miles and yards, but it's easy to convert to km.

14 pounds in a British stone.
and troy ounces and pounds and grains, which have no relation to other pounds or ounces, and have different conversions (12 troy ounces in a troy pound, for example.)


In the UK we use kg and gm.

Try converting british money before 1971...12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to a pound...


Try the US trick of calculating f=ma in ft/s^2 and pounds, or is it poundals, or slugs?

http://en.wikiped...ckground

All these units were obsolete before I was at school in the 1960's, only the US still uses the Imperial system.
rubberman
2 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2013
"We suspect this must play a big part in generating the Galaxy's overall magnetic field."- article

"We have many ideas for magnetic field generation. And some, who are cosmological in scope, may be incorporated into cosmology one day." Tor

It makes me happy to hear this.

The ISMF structure is going to wind up being more complicated than we can currently measure/map. (IMO)
It may even be more complicated than our various sytems of measuremement.
casualjoe
5 / 5 (1) Jan 03, 2013
1 American trillion = 10**12
1 European trillion = 10**18


Let me again clarify before the languages of Europe confuse you any further.
American trillion 10**12
European trillion 10**12

Everyone I know uses the short scale.
comprende?
casualjoe
not rated yet Jan 03, 2013
It seems I was in massive need of an education, many thanks. The wiki article on short and long scales is indeed very interesting.
So it's mainly the Spanish, French, Portuguese and Dutch speaking countries that prefer the long scale, fair play.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (1) Jan 03, 2013
@frajo

http://en.wikiped...Billiard (ENGLISH)

a billiard is the same in all languages and is always interpreted as long scale version of a quadrillion even in english.

billion is a different word and implies ambiguity as everyone was trying to point out.

another fun article http://en.wikiped..._numbers
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 03, 2013
So it's mainly the Spanish, French, Portuguese and Dutch speaking countries that prefer the long scale, fair play.

Add germany, switzerland, austria,... and basically the rest of europe (and the rest of the world)

Short scale is only widely used in the US and Brazil (and in the financial sector - go figure).

In scientific publications its tricky because the current scientific language is american english. But you always have to watch out when reading papers where they originate. For many researchers english isn't their first language so they don't automatically use short scale.
It really depends on how proficient an english speaker the author is (i.e. whether they're even aware of the difference).
That's why many (me included) always use scientific notation in publications - to avoid confusion.
casualjoe
not rated yet Jan 03, 2013
I will bear that in mind for future reading, thanks.
that_guy
3.5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2013
All these units were obsolete before I was at school in the 1960's, only the US still uses the Imperial system.


1. The US is one of the few nations left to rely primarily on the Imperial system. The UK still uses a mix, often with both measurements stated. They still use troy ounces and stones.
2. The British basically had to convert to metric, due to their close ties with the rest of Europe. The US is under no such pressure, unfortunately.

3. My issue is not whether the UK converted to a sensible measurement system, my issue is that not once in their history did they create any measurements that make any kind of sense, and then they spread this nonsense all over the world.
RealScience
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 03, 2013
not once in their history did they create any measurements that make any kind of sense

@that_guy:
These units made sense when they were created.

A mile was 1000 paces - makes sense if your primary mode of transport is walking.

An acre was the area of land a team of oxen could plow in a day, and also the area that a person with a scythe could hay in a day.
Makes sense in describing the size of a farm.

A fathom was the length of rope gathered in each pull of outstretched arms. Makes sense when fathoming the depth of a waterway.

Does a meter being 1/10,000,000 the quadrant of the earth REALLY make more sense than any of the above?

Having 12x unit and a 20x unit made it easy to divide monetary amounts by 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as well as by 10.

Binary fractions of inches allowed precision by cutting intervals in half when one didn't have a measuring device with fine calibrations.

The powers-of-10 of metric is an advantage for calculations with multiple units (e.g., science)
frajo
4.5 / 5 (4) Jan 03, 2013
A mile was 1000 paces - makes sense if your primary mode of transport is walking.

Doesn't make sense if you want to compare two routes in two countries with different kings and their different paces.

Does a meter being 1/10,000,000 the quadrant of the earth REALLY make more sense than any of the above?

Definitely, if you want to do science.
You need something that is valid everywhere.

Thus, in 1791, the French Academy of Sciences selected the meridional definition while king George III obviously had more important things to care about.
RealScience
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2013
@frajo - how many people back when these units arose would have been to another country (or even another county)? These were local units that were good enough for the average person in those times, and had the advantage of being derivable by almost anyone.

(Context: @That_guy said that imperial units never made any sense. To an average person when they were created, they made a lot more sense than something that they couldn't measure, such as the size of the earth.)

A quadrant-based unit is harder to measure, which is why a standard meter stick had to be built. What was important was that THE meter was ONE STANDARD regardless of where you lived, and that the standard meter stick itself could be measured with great precision. But by that point the Brits had already standardized the imperial units, so the big advantage of the metric system was easy math (and less political baggage).

(I prefer the metric system myself - the powers-of-ten is great for calculations with many units.)
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2013
how many people back when these units arose would have been to another country (or even another county)?
At least as many as sailors and dealers.

Context: @That_guy said that imperial units never made any sense.

No. He wrote:
my issue is that not once in their history did they create any measurements that make any kind of sense
"Create".

What was important was that THE meter was ONE STANDARD regardless of where you lived, and that the standard meter stick itself could be measured with great precision. But by that point the Brits had already standardized the imperial units
For the purpose of science a global standard is needed. A local standard is insufficient.
yyz
5 / 5 (3) Jan 03, 2013
For anyone interested, a preprint of the paper in Nature is available here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0512
sirchick
3 / 5 (2) Jan 04, 2013

Really:
2240 pounds in a British ton. (A metric ton is 2204)
5280 feet in an imperial mile.
14 pounds in a British stone.
and troy ounces and pounds and grains, which have no relation to other pounds or ounces, and have different conversions (12 troy ounces in a troy pound, for example.)
Try converting british money before 1971...12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to a pound...

Seriously, fuck the british and them measuring anything.


At least it challenges the mind to be good at mental arithmetic.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2013
(I prefer the metric system myself - the powers-of-ten is great for calculations with many units.)

While the metric system is currently the only sensible choice we should never forget that the 'power of ten' is only useful because we have ten fingers (and hence adopted a base ten number system).

From an objective standpoint the choice of base ten is itself questionable (Read: that choice is as arbitrary as imperial units are).
So the metric system will likely, in the long run, not be the last word in measuring systems.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (4) Jan 04, 2013
The problem for us becomes the arrival of a similar event emanating from the galactic core. Such a cosmic storm could significantly alter our planet's climate. Never-mind global warming. And if the SuperWave radiation is significant, we may all become cave men again. (I wonder what Cheney would say given the odds of such a global disaster? Attack!)

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 04, 2013
we may all become cave men again.

Why?

The problem for us becomes the arrival of a similar event emanating from the galactic core

What do you base this idea on (i.e. what is the mechanisms/energy source for your 'superwave'). Show the math.

Such an 'event' should lead to very distinctive isotope changes found in a very specific layer of the planet. I'm not aware that any such layers has ever been found (e.g. in drill core samples in the Antarctic) - so I'll call BS on this 'superwave' theory.

Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2013
If a similar event occurs from the galactic center, we may all become cave men again. A cosmic ray superwave storm could alter our climate, and the radiation could force us underground. (There is evidence for underground dwelling in some ancient structures of the distant past.)

So if it is not occurring now, it must be impossible, right? (Lazy brain logic.)
RealScience
5 / 5 (4) Jan 04, 2013
While the metric system is currently the only sensible choice we should never forget that the 'power of ten' is only useful because we have ten fingers (and hence adopted a base ten number system).


Exactly - The metric system is better because it matches the math that we are taught in school. That evolved from our number of digits and hence is a fluke.

Science fiction used to have advanced civilizations use binary (or octal or hexadecimal) to be compatible with computers. But computing power became so cheap that computers do the conversion effortlessly, so there is no incentive. Adding in hex or octal is no longer important, much like using a slide rule or knowing how to tan a buffalo hide in an oak stump.

Too bad thumbs weren't standardized as the next power, giving us octal and counting to 24 on our fingers (or counting to 1023 in three-finger octal). But base 10 is older than the zero, and trying to change now would be more futile than Esperanto.
RealScience
5 / 5 (3) Jan 04, 2013
For the purpose of science a global standard is needed. A local standard is insufficient.

Any standard could have been globalized, and the Brits were the biggest empire at that time.
Metric is great because heat, mass, length (at all scales), area, volume, force, etc. all use the same base-10 math, making calculations with multiple units easy. Everything except time!

Example:
I hate looking up thermal conductivity of some material on a U.S. web site and having to convert BTU per hour per ft2 * inch per degree Fahrenheit to Watts per meter Kelvin, but that is between systems and the reverse is equally annoying.
However converting between microWatts per Kelvin per square micron in a nanometer-thick film (for temperature gradient on a chip) and teraWatts per square kilometer Kelvin (for temperature profiles in geology) are easy (just powers of 10), whereas such conversions in Imperial units are a pain in the tail.
lengould100
5 / 5 (4) Jan 04, 2013
The metric system is a huge advantage. US automakers and aircraft mfgrs. know it, and have already converted. US scientists all work in metric. US engineers and businesses are the only ones still using "british" units, much to their disadvantage (US only trains about 20% as many undergraduate engineers as China).

http://aims.cse.m...1923.pdf

US isolation is no excuse. Canada, which does most of its foreign trade with US, switched to metric in the 1970's.
Whydening Gyre
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 05, 2013
The wave is approaching from the centre of our galaxy, on the 7 LY thick disc, that is our entire galaxy. Everyone on Earth will experience the wave. This is all natural and happens to all galaxies. The wave is "intelligent" and will "lay bare" the soul of every human on Earth. It will arrive in the first half of 2013. See link on YT

/watch?v=1q2Du_DkKbo

Idiot.. It's been going on since the beginning of the galaxy... or at least since the beginning of the black hole at the center...
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (5) Jan 05, 2013
Anyway... there was some discourse in another thread, recently, that was about the discharge of ions (charged particles) from the sun. The comment I found most correct(highest order of verification) was that the sun discharges from the poles rather than the equatorial. And now - looky there - the galaxy does it the same way! Nature seems to like doing things the same way on different scalar levels...
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (7) Jan 05, 2013
sub: space Cosmological Index-Confirmation-first tier in Universe
Lead Kindly Light-Tamasoma jyothirgamyam-Seach beyond Dark matter concepts- a few outlines were given -spread Energy from Milky way Galactic Center -3000 ly-9000Ly t0 27,000 LY indicating stability regions in between.Any one interested can contact me fot the book
.SEARCH BEYOND DARK MATTER-COSMOS YOGA SERIES-I 10^3 LY-Tamasoma Jyothirgamyam TXU 1-282-571(June 2005),Copyrights USA, ISBN India
This helps to identify first tier in a three-Tier Universe.
I am thankful to above image data -projecting 30,000 LY above milkyway Galactic plane- I assumed- 10^3-10^4 Zone with typical 27,000 LY as feasible transition to Dynamic region-[see next book] and also COSMOLOGICAL INDEX-MILKYWAY SENSEX-VISIBLE -INVISIBLE MATRIX 2010..PPT-33 sent to ESA groups http://cosmologyt...pot.com/
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2013
(I prefer the metric system myself - the powers-of-ten is great for calculations with many units.)

While the metric system is currently the only sensible choice we should never forget that the 'power of ten' is only useful because we have ten fingers (and hence adopted a base ten number system).

I disagree. The power of ten is so useful due to standardization, and the mathematically simple properties of using tens for measurements when the counting system is already base ten.

While the initial choice of using base ten is somewhat arbitrary to our fingers, after the base ten system is in place (As it was in britain at the creation of many of their measurements), it is advantageous to create and use ten base measurements thereon out - for mathematically obvious reasons. (At least obvious to anyone who was not british)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2013
simple properties of using tens for measurements when the counting system is already base ten.

The point is any base you care to choose (be it base 3 or ten or - as the egyptians did - base 60...or even base e or pi) will have easy conversion methods along the base factors.

There is no one system that is superior to any other in such a way. There are no 'mathematically obvious' reasons (only 'psychologically obvious' reasons - like using a base that is the same as the number of fingers we have).

But if we ever should interactr with intelligences other than outr own then our psychological reasons won'z mesh with theirs - i.e. they very likely won't use base ten.

The only system that stands out as 'lowest integer' one is base 2 (and it's no accident that its the one used for information theory). So we might think about adopting that one some days.
Fleetfoot
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
simple properties of using tens for measurements when the counting system is already base ten.

The point is any base you care to choose (be it base 3 or ten or - as the egyptians did - base 60...or even base e or pi) will have easy conversion methods along the base factors.

There is no one system that is superior to any other in such a way. ..


I think the topic has drifted a bit. The original point was regarding the Imperial system versus SI and the advantage that SI has is that the units are logically related.
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013
simple properties of using tens for measurements when the counting system is already base ten.

The point is any base you care to choose (be it base 3 or ten or - as the egyptians did - base 60...or even base e or pi) will have easy conversion methods along the base factors.


That's my point. using something related to your base counting system is mathematically simpler than using something opposed to your base counting system. The fact that we have ten fingers only coincides with that fact because we currently use a base 10 system, which has not always been the case.

There are no 'mathematically obvious' reasons (only 'psychologically obvious' reasons

when you add an additional digit for each increase in power, it makes certain mathematical functions far simpler to do.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013
when you add an additional digit for each increase in power, it makes certain mathematical functions far simpler to do.

Adding a digit in base 2 adds a power. 'Power' does not necessarily mean 'power of ten'. And there is nothing inherently special about things being different by powers of ten (as opposed to, say, powers of 17).
There's no QUALITATIVE (non-linear) jump between "not being different by a power of 10" and "being different by a power of 10" - that's only psychological.
Using powers of ten jumps to mean "something is different by an order of magnitude" is completely arbitrarily chosen. We could as well say that if something is different by a power of 2, e, 12, or any other number that that means "something is different by an order of magnitude"
that_guy
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
But if we ever should interactr with intelligences other than our own then our psychological reasons won't mesh with theirs - i.e. they very likely won't use base ten.

I'm not arguing this, but I would point out that the mathematical calculations are results are identical, regardless of notation. This would be little different than overcoming a small part of the language barrier.

The only system that stands out as 'lowest integer' one is base 2 (and it's no accident that its the one used for information theory). So we might think about adopting that one some days.


True, but I can easily imagine simple ways to communicate your base counting system - As you would have to, even to come to an understanding on a base 2 counting system.

And even in computers, the base two is rapidly scaled up to hexadecimal for many higher internal functions (And converted to decadecimal for external functions)
that_guy
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
Adding a digit in base 2 adds a power. 'Power' does not necessarily mean 'power of ten'. And there is nothing inherently special about things being different by powers of ten (as opposed to, say, powers of 17).

Jesus Christ antialias. Take what I said as I said it. I mean power of your base. Whatever base you use is easiest to us for certain functions for that base, because when you increase in power, you add a one to the front with our methods of notation. It doesn't matter if your base is 3, five, or 864.153.

So if our base is five, and you want to kick it up a power (to 25) the notation would still be simple for that addition, and the 2nd power would still read that base's equivalent of "10". as in 1,2,3,4,10,11,12,13,14,20, and so on. increasing the value of a number by a power, is a flat simple operation no matter what base you use, and is not only psychological, but mathematically simple. The power and base are inclusively related.
that_guy
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
I mean seriously, are you trying to notate a 5 base system in our decabase notation and confusing yourself. Everything I'm saying should makes sense just as I said it. Don't try to interpret it as something else.
(Edit) in example above, the first power is "10" equal to 5 and the second power should be "100" - equal to 25. Mybad.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
Ah. From what I read I was of the impression you were arguing that 10 was the only base in which 'powers' and 'orders of magnitude' and 'ease of computing' made sense.

Though, seriously, I think that after the most basic advances in science 'ease of computing' becomes largely irrelevant. There's not much science today in which doing math on paper/in your head is relevant anymore. And to a computer it doesn't really matter what you multiply by or which base you use.

(Small aside: Doing bitshifts is a speedy manipulation - and you want to have as many of those as possible. So taking the lowest possible integer base (2) saves you some time in that regard.)
that_guy
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
(I wrote this first part before I saw your new comment.)
So to multiple the Base of 3 to the next power (which equals 9), all you do is our equivalent of 10 times 10 and add a zero to make 100. It doesn't matter which base you use, but the point is, that a simple function of a counting system is increasing the power. It doesn't matter what base you use, but once you have chosen that base, using a power of the base that you have chosen is the simplest way to implement many other arbitrary and semi-arbitrary accountings, such as measuring or money.

Though, seriously, I think that after the most basic advances in science 'ease of computing' becomes largely irrelevant. There's not much science today in which doing math on paper/in your head is relevant anymore. And to a computer it doesn't really matter what you multiply by or which base you use.

I think that conceptually, we still need something to wrap our head around. But yes, the prevalence of hexadecimal in computers shows..
lengould100
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2013
My only problem with the metric system (which, contrary to arguments above, uses a very rational system of units regardless of base), is the units of time and angular rotation are still in the old Eqyptian base 60 rather than a base ten. The French should have bitten the bullet and converted to a base 10 clock and calendar when they introduced the system, to eliminate the unwieldly conversions from power to energy / acceleration to velocity / etc. , and angular calculations also should have been converted, eg. 1000 degrees in a circle, 10 divisions of a circle (instead of four).

All the discussions of "ideal base" are just weird distractions, probably yanks trying to obfuscate their continued use of the old outdated units. It makes no difference what base, as long as all measurements operate on the same base.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013
Two minor add-ons.
First, please don't confuse the Egyptian number system (base 10) and the Mesopotamian (Sumerian) system (base 60) which was invented some centuries earlier.
See http://en.wikiped...#History .

Second, while there is no mathematically preferred number system the ease of reading and writing differs somewhat.
(Personally, I'd prefer hex notation.)
that_guy
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
All the discussions of "ideal base" are just weird distractions

If you were talking about me and antialias, the argument was not about the "ideal base". I was just saying it is simplest to stick with whatever base you're using, and he misunderstood part of what I was trying to say.

Then it got convoluted. No, I'm all for using our base ten system for most or all measurements.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
But yes, the prevalence of hexadecimal in computers shows..

hex is just another of these 'ease of use' things. there's no technological reason for hex (it's always binary at the lower level. no operations are done in hex)

As for counting on fingers: Binary will get you furthest.

Since I like information theory (and everything there is defined terms of binary/the bit) I'd prefer that. Information theory seems also to be fundamental to just about anything we do.
RealScience
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013

As for counting on fingers: Binary will get you furthest.


With fingers that have only TWO positions, that is.
If you use curled, bent-at-the-first-knucle,and straight you can count much futher in trinary.

But to be fair we should normalize for total positions.
If we have 12 total positions (powers time numerals), then four trinary digits will get you further than six binary digits (3^4 is 81 while 2^6 is only 64). So by that measure base 3 is more efficient than base 2.
(If your 20 finger positions were 6 trinary digits and a binary digit you could count to 2186 versus only 1023 with ten binary digits). There was even work done on trinary logic for computers ( / - and zero), but digital tube and transistors are binary so trinary disappeared.

If we don't restrict ourselves to integer bases, then base e (2.71828...) is the most efficient base because X^(1/X) reaches a maximum when X=e.

Our brains are hybrid, binary on firing but analog (not binary) on synapse weight.
Whydening Gyre
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2013
Wow... reading the comments in almost the whole last page, you'd think the article was on efficiency of numbering systems, not jets of power from the galactic center...
What caused the shift?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2013
My only problem with the metric system (which, contrary to arguments above, uses a very rational system of units regardless of base), is the units of time and angular rotation are still in the old Eqyptian base 60 rather than a base ten. The French should have bitten the bullet and converted to a base 10 clock and calendar when they introduced the system, to eliminate the unwieldly conversions from power to energy / acceleration to velocity / etc. , and angular calculations also should have been converted, eg. 1000 degrees in a circle ..


The only sensible unit for rotation has to be radians.

The French did decimalise time:

http://en.wikiped...mal_time

They also had a decimal calendar:

http://en.wikiped...Calendar

My wife has a French ancestor, the documents show her 3rd great grandfather was born on the "26th day of the month of germinal, in the Fifth Year of the French Republic".
frajo
not rated yet Jan 12, 2013
Binary will get you furthest. Since I like information theory (and everything there is defined terms of binary/the bit) I'd prefer that.
So you prefer to type "10101010" instead of "AA"?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2013
So you prefer to type "10101010" instead of "AA"?

If you mean as a means of representing information in an ultimately interchangeable way - yes.

The way you represent numbers shapes the psyche. As can be seen by the discussion here we have some sort of psychological predisposion (or problem if you want to look at it another way) of saying something is significantly off if it is 'an order of magnitude'. There's a non liear way of looking at stuff when it is different by a factor of 9.5 or a factor of 10.5 (that is not so much a problem between 4.5. and 5.5 - even though as a percentage the latter difference is much more significant)
So our current number system is psychologically problematic.

And I would argue you could get used to counting binary on your fingers as easily as you get counting 1-10 (and you'd get much further with binary)