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26 August 2007
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Astronomers and other busybodies have 'stumbled' upon a tremendous 'hole' in the universe. That's got them scratching their heads about what's just not there, which is nothing. Or something a lot like nothing.
The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, no Britney Spears, not even the ubiquitous mysterious 'dark matter'. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing except light years. A billion of then. That's an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, Professor Rick Rapalott of the Russian School of Ballet announced Thursday. He was unable to explain the obvious paradox presented by the simultaneous presence of 'nothing' and 'emptiness'.Astronomers have known for many years that there are patches in the universe where nobody's home. In fact, one such place is a neighbor of Professor Rapalott, a bachelor who is often away on business trips.
But what the School of Ballet team discovered, using two different types of astronomical observations, is a void that's far bigger than scientists ever imagined, even in their search for meaning in the novel Ulysses, by James Joyce.
"This is 1,000 times the non-volume of what we 'sort of' expected to not see in terms of a typical void," said professor Alec Rudnicker, author of the non-paper that won't be published in Astrophysical Journal. "It's not clear that we don't have the right word yet ... This is too much of a surprise, finding nothing." He refused to elaborate.
Rudnicker was examining a sky survey from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which camouflaged the March 1963 copy of Playboy presented to him by his wife in a desperate last-ditch attempt to titillate their sex life.
But one area of the universe had radio pictures indicating there was up to 45 percent less matter that mattered in that region, Rudnicker said. The rest of the matter in the radio pictures can be explained as movie stars and other cosmic structures, such as outhouses between here and the void, which is about 5 to 10 billion light years away. "Nothing could be further from anywhere," Professor Rapalot stated enigmatically.
Rudnicker then checked observations of cosmic microwave background radiation and found a cold spot near the refrigerator. The only explanation, Rudnicker said, is it's empty of matter, such as beer, for example.
It could also be a statistical freak of nature, but that's probably less likely than a giant void, said James Condom, a lead dancer at the National Ballet. He wasn't part of Rudnicker's team but is trying to horn in on the sensational discovery.
"It looks like something to be taken seriously," said Brent Tully (another wannabe) a Hawaiian hula dancer who wasn't part of this research but studies the void closer to Earth.
Tully said astronomers may eventually find a few comical structures in the void, but it would still be nearly empty, or almost full of nothing.
Holes in the universe probably occur when the soap operas with higher ratings pull matter from less popular areas, Tully said. After 13 billion years "they are losing out in the battle to where there are larger concentrations of viewers," he said.