Quick Review of the Universe
by James Jaeger

Here is a quick over view of the Universe and those things that are assumed to be true as they relate to Life and WHERE YOU ARE IN THIS THING CALLED "existence."


When you hold your hands out and wave them, you are moving them through this stuff we call space (which may not be what it seems. More about that later). Space is all around you and continues above your head.

There are seemingly gigantic amounts of space above you. We call this nearby space, the sky and as you get farther out, we call it outer space, or just space.

Sky is just space that is close to the earth.

Your body is walking on the surface of the earth, a huge ball which is turning in this space.

The ball is 8,000 miles in diameter and called a planet. We have named this planet Earth.


From the Earth you can see a very bright ball in the sky. This bright ball is called a star. We have named the closest star to our planet, the "Sun." It's been called by many other names down through the ages.

The reason a star, such as the Sun, is bright is because there are the equivalent of trillions of hydrogen bombs going off under its surface. These explosions give off radiation, among which is light, which our eye have evolved to be able to perceive. We call this "seeing."

The Sun is 93 million miles away from the Earth and has a diameter of 868,000 miles. The sun is about 100 times the diameter of earth.

Sun's mass is 2 million trillion trillion kilograms or 324,000 times the mass of Earth.

From the ground on Earth, the number of other stars (other "suns"), you can see with the unaided eye is 6,000 and only 2,500 in each hemisphere at a time.

For each star we see, there are 50 million we cannot see with unaided eye.

In fact, in the observable Universe, meaning observable with telescopes, etc., there are approximately one billion trillion stars. Put another way, that's 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.

These stars make up about 1% of all the matter in the Universe, the rest is dark matter and scientists collectively only have theories as to what it is.


One of these other stars is called Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri has the distinction of being the second closest star to the earth. It takes 4.3 years for the light emanating from Alpha Centauri, to reach us here on earth. Even though light "travels" at 183,000 miles per second, it takes an incredible 4.3 years for it to reach us.

A "Light Year" is the distance a beam of light travels in one year.

A beam of light travels 186,000 miles in one second or , 11,160,000 (11.2 million) miles in one minute, or, 6,700,000,000 (6.7 billion) miles in one hour, or 161,000,000,000 (161 billion) miles in one day and thus the distance light travels in one (1) year is 58,765,000,000,000 (58.8 trillion) miles.

Thus Alpha Centauri is said to be 4.3 light years away from our Sun. The "light year" is a common unit of distance used in astronomy and cosmology. The parsec, which is about 3.5 Light years, is another.

All stars, in particular our sun, because we are so close to it, creates what we call "daylight" on the Earth.

This daylight, from our sun and all the rest of the stars, can only be seen intermittently because the earth rotates.


The Earth turns and, as it makes one complete turn, revealing the sun half the time and the other stars the other half the time, we call each full turn, each rotation, a "day."

Each day is chopped up into 24 slices of rotation, each slice is called an "hour."

All an hour is, is a bit of rotation, a bit of movement of the planet Earth turning.

All "time" is, is this bit of movement. Nothing more. No other dimension, just this movement.

When the earth turns away from the sun and we see the stars, we call this "night" because we are in the shadow of the earth.

When we are in the shadow of the earth we can see other stars in the galaxy and the Universe that are too dim to see during the day because the sun is so bright it blots them out.

Other stars, such as Alpha Centauri, create what we call "star light" from the point of view of our planet. Our sun creates starlight from the point of view of others on distant planets.

Our star, the sun will burn for an estimated 12 Billion years before it burns out. In other words the earth will move around the sun, revolve, 12 billion more times and then the sun will be burned out.

The Earth has revolved around the Sun 4.6 billion times already, hence it is 4.6 billion "years old."

Eight other planets, similar and very different to our earth (as well as other stuff) revolve around the sun. Everything taken collectively is called the Solar System or just the "Sys."

Sun contains 99.86% of mass in the Solar System.

The Solar System and Earth are expected to last only 7.4 billion more years.


After the Earth had spun around the sun about 1 billion times, simple, yet exotic, microscopic motion began to appear on the Earth under its oceans. We call this motion "Life."

Collectively as a race of beings on a planet, we don't know exactly what Life is (yet). Some individuals think we do. Some think we don't. Some think we will. Some think we won't ever know what it is.

They say complex Life began to form after 4 billion years. First man-like species with brains formed 8 million years ago.

Homo Sapiens formed from 4 billion years to present, in other words, the complex life we call "Homo Sapiens" has taken 600,000 years to form and really only existed in an "advanced state" the past 200,000 years in Eastern Africa.

Writing was invented only 5,000 years ago so we could communicate observations about intangible things and such things as galaxies.


Our Sun is one star in a grouping of between 100 and 300 billion other stars, depending on who you ask. This grouping is called a galaxy.

We have named this galaxy "The Milky Way" because it looks like a faint stream of milk strewn across the dark, night sky.

The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and 17,000 light years thick at its center. It is shaped like a disc with spiral arms.

Our Sun is about 27,000 light years from the center of the galaxy.

The Milky Way's center, called the Galactic Nucleus, is 16,000 light years in diameter.

Our Sun orbits the Galactic Nucleus at 155 mi per sec (or 8.4 times Earth's speed around Sun).

The Solar System's period of rotation around Galactic Nucleus is 200,000,000 years.

Sun has made perhaps 25 circuits about Galactic Nucleus.

The mass of the Milky Way is 150 billion times m`ss of sun. Q?

The billions of stars in the Milky Way make up 94% of its mass.

Other galaxies, like and dissimilar to our Milky Way Galaxy exist. The closest galaxy to out Milky Way is called the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a galaxy 170,000 light years away with 10 Billion stars.

The next nearest galaxy is called the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a galaxy 200,000 light years away with 2 Billion stars.

LMC & SMC are Satellite galaxies of the Milky Way as The Milky Way is 25 times as large as both the LMC & SMC combined.

The Andromeda Galaxy, another Galaxy, is 2,200,000 light years away or 11 times farther than the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Not only this, the Andromeda Galaxy is several times the size of the Milky Way Galaxy with and estimated 600 Billion stars.

Maffei I, yet another galaxy, is 3.2 million light years away but about the size of the Milky Way.

There are billions of other Galaxies though out space, nevertheless, the same force that causes an apple to fall from a tree, "gravity," causes these Galaxies to fall towards each other into clusters. We call these clusters "Galactic Clusters."

Near our Milky Way Galaxy, there are clustered together about 15 galaxies including LMC, SMC, Andromeda, Maffei I and the 15 other smaller Galaxies with less than 1 million stars each. We call this cluster the "Local Group."

The Local Group may contain 1.5 trillion stars.

Other Galactic Clusters exist, some with thousands of members.

We can detect up to 1 Billion Galaxies up to 1 Billion light years away.

With off Earth observation ability or the best we may be able to view outward up to 12 Billion light Years before reaching an absolute limit where observation is impossible.

The observable Universe may have 100 Billion Galaxies!

Milky Way is Galaxy of intermediate size.

Some galaxies are 100 times more massive than Milky Way and tiny ones with 1/1000th the mass. Small objects of a particular class greatly out number the large objects.

Estimate: Average of 10 Billion Stars per Galaxy; hence average size of Galaxy is size of Large Magellanic Cloud.

If our star, the Sun, were the size of an M&M milk chocolate candy, the next nearest star, Alpha Century, would be represented as another M&M 96 miles away. Each of the other billions of stars in our Galaxy would be spread out in a similar fashion, 100 to 300 billion M&Ms each 96 miles apart.

Galaxies are much closer to each other than stars are to each other. In other words, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) the closest Galaxy to the Milky Way would be represented by an M&M only 5 inches away and the Galaxies in the Local Group would be M&Ms between 5 and 100 feet away.

All the other Galaxies, galaxies outside the Local Group, represented by M&Ms would fill a volume of 1 kilometer. This is the "known" universe to date.

Cephiad variables have made it possible for us to determine the approximate distances to the stars and galaxies because their period is proportionate to their distance.

Other Life:

The number of stars consideration alone makes it almost certain extraterrestrial intelligence exists. At any rate this is not a zero probability because we exist (I think).

When something spins it has what is called angular momentum because it is sweeping out degrees of angle as it spins. When we say something is losing angular momentum, all it means is that the thing is spinning more slowly because mass is being lost from the spinning thing itself. In other words, mass is flinging-off due to what is called centrifugal force.

This is why an ice skater spins more slowly when he lets his arms extend from his body and faster when he pulls them in.

Billions of years ago, the Sun used to spin more quickly than it does today. This is because hot mass flung-off it. This mass condensed into what we call the planets of the Sys. Earth is one of these planets.

However most of this mass which flung off formed the planets Jupiter and Saturn. These two planets alone, have 1/800th the mass of the Sun but possess most of the planetary mass of the Sys. Because they poses most of the mass of the sys, they have captured 40 times as much angular momentum as the rest of the planets in the Sys. Thus 60% of all the angular momentum in the Solar System is possessed by one of the nine planets in the Solar System, Jupiter and 25% by another, Saturn. These are the two largest planets in the Sys.

Since we can't see planets around stars very easily (even though the Hubble Near Earth Telescope recently did confirming their existence), a Star's loss of angular momentum is a clue that orbiting planets have absorbed such angular momentum.

Spectroscopy uses a spectroscope to spread light out in order of wavelength from short waves of violet to long waves of red. Isaac Newton demonstrated spectrum in 1665.

Joseph von Fraunhofer demonstrated spectral absorption lines in 1814.

The Doppler effect was discovered in 1842.

Red shift effect discovered in 1848.

Absorption lines are missing wavelengths which were absorbed by the atoms in a star's atmosphere before reaching Earth.

These lines were shown to be "fingerprints" of elements since atoms of each element emitted or absorbed particular wavelengths particular to no other element. If the absorption lines from a star were displaced towards the red end of the spectrum, (relative to a known pattern taken from the sun for instance), per Doppler effect, the star would be receding at a speed calculable from the degree of displacement toward the red end of the spectrum.

The Red Shift is name of this phenomenon.

The rotation of a star, causes one side of the star to red shift and the other to violet shift hence the absorption lines grow fatter.

The fatter the absorption lines the faster the spin.

Star rotation discovered because of broad absorption lines in spectrum in 1877.

Stars spectral classes are O, B, A, F, G, K & M.

O Spectral Class is most massive, hottest and most luminous.

M Spectral Class is least massive, coolest and dimmest with gradient scale between the O and M classes.

Spectral Classes subdivided: B0, B1 ... B9, A0...A9, etc.

Sun is Spectral Class G2.

More massive a star, the more likely it was fast-rotator hence O..F2 fastest rotators.

F2...M slow rotators.

7% of stars are fast-rotators.

93% of stars are slow-rotators.

Hence, 93% of stars have planetary systems.

Planets revolving around a star cause it to wobble about the center of gravity.

If two bodies are same mass, center of gravity is in middle.

If more massive body is 2X the mass of smaller body, the center of gravity is 2X closer to the center of the larger mass.

Earth is 81 times as massive as Moon.

Earth and Moon rotate about the Earth-Moon center of gravity - the Moon does not rotate about the Earth.

The center of gravity of the Earth-Moon system is 2,950 mi from Earth's center or 1000 miles under the Earth's surface.

Center of Earth also moves in small circle about the center of gravity of the Earth-Moon System once every 27-1/3 days.

This causes the Earth to wave in its path around the Sun wave period being 27-1/3 days long.

If Moon weren't there Earth would not wave (wobble) and instead would move around the Sun in smooth path.

Jupiter causes the Sun to wobble as the Moon causes the Earth to wobble.

Sun is 1,050 times as massive as Jupiter hence the center of gravity of Sun-Jupiter System is 1,050 times closer to center of Sun than the center of Jupiter.

The center of gravity of the Sun-Jupiter system is a) 460,000 miles from center of the Sun, or, b) 28,000 miles outside the Sun's surface.

The Center of Sun circles the Sun-Jupiter center of gravity once every 12 years hence the sun, in its otherwise smooth progress about the Galactic Nucleus, wobbles slightly to and fro from its path.

Sun's wobble is complex pattern caused from the combined effect of all the Sun's Planets.

Sun's equator rotates 1.25 mi per second.

Some stars rotate up to 330 mi per second.

Earth's escape velocity is 7.0 mi per sec.

Moon's escape velocity is 1.47 mi per sec.

Earth's diameter 7,900 mi.

Mercury's diameter 4,860 mi.

Venus's diameter 7,520 mi.

Mar's diameter 6,790 mi.

Number of planets with technological civilization in our Galaxy is estimated as 390 million.

All the stars and galaxies, as above itemized, comprise only about 1% of the matter in the known Universe.

The other 99% of the Universe is comprised of Dark Matter, some say. . . other's say that a little less than 2/3rds is DARK ENERGY and a little less than 1/3rd is DARK MATTER and all the rest, about 1% or 2% is baryonic matter (i.e., regular matter made up of protons and neutrons).

Some think about one third of this Dark Matter is hot and the other two thirds are cold.

Most have no idea what the DARK ENERGY is, however some think it may be the basis for zero point energy and/or the force that is causing the Hubble Constant to increase (in other words, the expansion of the universe, some feel, may be accelerating . . . it's not just linear).

The hot stuff is may be electron-neutrinos (one of the three types of neutrinos) and the cold stuff is unknown, possibly baryonic matter, as mentioned.

The Universe can be what is called: open, flat or closed.

Open means the Universe is expanding and will do so forever because there is not enough matter, hence gravitational attraction, to cause it to stop expanding.

Flat means the Universe is expanding and just come to a stop at sometime in the future because there is just enough matter, hence gravitational attraction, to cause it to stop expanding, come to a halt and not contract.

Closed means the Universe is expanding and will do so only for a limited amount of time because there is more than enough matter, hence gravitational attraction, to cause it to stop expanding and contract back into what is called a singularity.

The laws formulated by Relativity present a major problem because they inevitably lead to a mathematical singularity. Quantum Mechanics must then be called in to explain the limit of "classical physics." This area is in chaos at this time and some feel that Superstring Theory or M-Theory might hold answers and present a TOE, Theory Of Everything, also known as the Grand Unifying Theory which will bring the three fundamental forces (covered by quantum mechanics) into alignment with the gravitational force (covered by relatativity).

Until recently cosmologists were not sure whether the Universe is open, flat or closed.

Recently it has been discovered that there is enough Matter in the Universe to ensure that it will be closed. Then it was discovered that there may not be and a cosmological constant (relating to zero-point energy) needs to be invoked.

If the Universe is closed, it will stop expanding and contract back on itself in what is called the opposite of the Big Bank - The Big Crunch - nothing will be able to escape from the Universe as it would had it been flat or open.

If this happens, the Universe snaps back on itself, all the matter in the Universe will be in a "space" less than the size of a proton. Upon this event, all the Laws of Nature and the Fundamental Constants will cease to exist as we know them.

The Universe will become what is known as a singularity (not to be confused with Vernor Vinge's "Technological Singularity").

A singularity exists at the core of a Black Hole.

Nothing can escape from a Black Hole, not even light, and that's why it's called a black hole.

Thus, if the Universe is closed, it's a giant Black Hole - AND THAT'S WHERE YOU WOULD BE IN THIS THING CALLED EXISTENCE! In a Black Hole!

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