Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretch 4 billion light-years from end to end. The structure is a light quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous Galactic Nulcei powered by supermassive central black holes.
So that’s cool and everything, but maybe some of you would be interested to know why this is a significant find? Beyond just its record-setting bigness.
Since Einstein, physicists have accepted something called the Cosmological Principle, which states that the universe looks the same everywhere if you view it on a large enough scale. You might find some weird shit over here, and some other freaky shit over there, but if you pull back the camera far enough, you’ll find that same weird and/or freaky shit cropping up over and over again in a fairly regular distribution. This is because the universe is (probably) infinite in size and (we are pretty darn sure) has, and has always had, the same forces acting on it everywhere.
So why is this new LQG so radical? (It stands for ‘Large Quasar Group,’ btw, not ‘Light Quasar Group.’)
Well, let’s try to comprehend the scale we’re dealing with. A ‘megaparsec,’ written Mpc, is about 3.2 million light years long. The Milky Way is about 0.03 Mpc across (or 100,000 light years). The distance between our galaxy and Andromeda, our closest galactic neighbor, is 0.75 Mpc, or 2.5 million light years. LQGs are usually about 200 Mpc across. Assuming a logarithmic distribution of weird shit outliers (if you don’t know how logarithmic distribution curves work, don’t worry about it), cosmologists predicted that nothing in the universe should be more than 370 Mpc across.
This new LQG is 1200 Mpc long. That’s four billion light years. Four BILLION LIGHT YEARS. Just to travel from one side to the other of this one thing. I mean for fuck’s sake, the universe is only about 14 billion years old! How many of these things could there be?
Right now it looks like the Cosmological Principle might be out the window, unless physicists can find some way to make the existence of this new LQG work with the math (and boy, are they trying). And that’s totally baffling. It would mean—well, we don’t have any idea what it would mean. That the universe isn’t essentially uniform? That some ‘special’ physics apply/applied in some places but not in others? That Something Happened that is totally outside our current ability to understand or quantify stuff happening?
By the way, no one lives there. The radiation from so many quasars would sterilize rock.
THE BEGINNINGS OF KAWAII
No, no, you have no idea. It actually IS the beginning of the whole so-called “kawaii culture”. And it started because girls started using mechanical pencils, which provided fine handwriting. After being banished (more precisely, during the 80s), this kind of writing started being used in products like magazines and make-up. And, during this time, icons we usually associate with the whole kawaii industry (like the characters from Sanrio) came to life too.
And what many people don’t realize is that this subculture was born as a way for young girls to express themselves in their own way. And it was also used as something against the adult life and the traditional culture, often seen as dull and boring and oppressive. By embracing cuteness, these young girls (and adult women, after a while) were showing non-conformation with the current standards.
So yep. Kawaii is important, and it all started with cute, simple handwritting a few hearts and cat faces in some girls’ school notebooks <3
NO OK THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!
This is also how the kawaii fashions started! Girls began dressing in cute and off beat styles for themsleves, they were criticized by adult figures telling them “you’ll never find a husband if you dress that way!” to which they began to reply “Good!”
All the japanese subcultures and fashions that evolved out of this became a rebellion to tradition and the starch gender roles and expectations the adults were forcing on the younger generations. As early as the 70s and still to this day you’ll see an emphasis on child-like fashion and themes in more kawaii styles and the dismissal of the male gaze with styles like lolita (a lot of western people assume lolita is somehow sexual due to the name of the fashion, but ask any japanese lolita and they will tell you that men hate the style and find it unattractive which is sometimes a large reason they gravitate towards the style - they can express their femininity and individuality while remaining independent and without the pressure to appeal to men)
Its so so so important to understand the hyper cute and ‘odd’ fashions of Japanese girls carry such a huge message of feminism and reclaiming of their own lives.