Having a bad day? This cosmic perspective could help!

We all have a bad day every now and then. Each one has different ways of coping with it – some curse the government, others blame their karma, and still others just play sport or music to soothe the mind.

This past Season, two astronomically inclined friends showed me a new way of coping with the assorted problems of our imperfect world and unfair life.

First, Rex I de Silva – diver, naturalist and amateur astronomer who was a citizen scientist before the term was invented – sent me this clever piece of animation that originated in Australia. He wrote: “It’s so very well done that most folks don’t realize how much info is being shared! Just click on the link below….but with your computer’s speakers on. We are on quite a ride….It’s not over till it asks if you want to view again.”

Indeed, it’s the ultimate journey – take it at:
http://dingo.care2.com/cards/flash/5409/galaxy.swf (it was working as of today).

Then, Thilina Heenatigala – one of the most active astronomy and space enthusiasts in Sri Lanka – informed me that the original Galaxy Song was sung by Eric Idle from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (1983), with graphics from NASA of flying through the universe.

So here it is, the film version from YouTube:

If the real images are not awe-inspiring enough, here’s an animated version of the same song that I discovered on my own while exploring that rapidly expanding online video galaxy – it features ‘Pinhead’ from RProduction13’s animated short series, “The Four”.

And here are the lyrics of
The Galaxy Song:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,
And you feel that you’ve had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough…

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the “Milky Way”.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

(Animated calliope interlude)

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

Composers: Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Author: Eric Idle
Singer: Eric Idle
From the ‘Meaning of Life’ album, MCA Records MCA 6121

I have no idea who Mrs Brown is, but it sure works for me too!

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

4 thoughts on “Having a bad day? This cosmic perspective could help!”

  1. I sent the link to Rex noting that orbital rate for Sri Lanka should be upped to ~1000mph. Thanks for posting the original videos too. Re. our ‘amazing unlikely birth’ Sir Martin Rees’ ‘Just Six Numbers’ is an interesting read. Martin Rees is Astronomer Royal in UK.

  2. Oo..oops! Rotational speed at latitude of Sri Lanka is around ~1000 mph. Sorry for error in posting ‘orbital rate’ for this….. Shereen Amendra

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