What if a Giant Cyclops Looked at the Universe


Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have concluded that the universe has a color, and that color is green.

How, you might ask, can the universe possibly be green? Peer into the night sky, and what you see is black. Sure, there is the smattering of sparkling white stars and the occasional passing UFO. But mostly it is just black, with not a bit of green to be seen.

That’s because we’re observing the universe from the inside, astronomers tell us. If it were possible to get outside the universe and examine it, things would appear very different indeed.

(You may now ask yourself the question: How can you get outside the universe if the universe is everything? What can possibly lie beyond infinity? And how does one visualize infinity, anyway? Then, when you’re finished making yourself crazy with all that, continue reading.)

Dr. Karl Glazebrook of Johns Hopkins offers an explanation: “If you put all 200,000 galaxies in a box, the average color would be green. And if you had a huge eyeball and could observe the whole universe at once, the color would be green.”

(Now there would be a discovery, a giant Cyclops peering at us from outside the universe. But, no, it’s not an eye, it’s the lens of a microscope. Oh my God…)

Glazebrook and his colleagues at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Australia came to this colorful conclusion after analyzing the color of all the stars in the sky. Many of those stars are blue, meaning they are younger, hotter stars. Others are red, older and comparatively cooler stars. Mix red and blue together, and you get . . . green?

Yes, when you mix light. Mix paint and you get purple, but light works differently. What does this tell us about the universe? Green is good. A few billion years ago, if there were anyone with that huge eyeball to take a gander, the universe would have been bluish in appearance, filled to the brim with all those younger, hotter stars. Not a very good time to be a carbon-based life form, one suspects.

A few billions years hence, it will appear more reddish, as the universe ages and stars grow tired and old. Break out the fur-lined space suits.

Green – actually the “shade of pale turquoise, but a few percent greener” – represents a kind of settled middle age, a very good time to be alive – especially if the star your planet happens to orbit is neither red nor blue but yellow like our sun, a comfortable, midsized star, neither too hot nor too cold as long as you stay about 93 million miles away.

Since Aussies were involved in this study, it would be fair to speculate on how many Fosters were passed around the barbie while they dreamed all this up. And Glazebrook admits they were having “a bit of fun” with all this.

Nonetheless, he insists that this discovery will help astronomers in their efforts to learn more about the formation of stars and galaxies. In other words, not all that grant money went for beer runs.

Personally, I draw some comfort knowing our universe has a greenish color. It’s a tranquil shade, evoking images of cool, emerald waters along a placid seashore, the sheltering canopy of verdant leaves overhead and, of course, the well-known hue of those space aliens flitting about the night sky.


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