Explanation: Large galaxies grow by eating small ones. Even our own galaxy practices galactic cannibalism, absorbing small galaxies that get too close and are captured by the Milky Way’s gravity. In fact, the practice is common in the universe and illustrated by this striking pair of interacting galaxies from the banks of the southern constellation Eridanus, The River. Located over 50 million light years away, the large, distorted spiral NGC 1532 is seen locked in a gravitational struggle with dwarf galaxy NGC 1531 (right of center), a struggle the smaller galaxy will eventually lose. Seen edge-on, spiral NGC 1532 spans about 100,000 light-years. Nicely detailed in this sharp image, the NGC 1532/1531 pair is thought to be similar to the well-studied system of face-on spiral and small companion known as M51.
A man who had spent his whole life in the desert visited a friend. He’d never seen a train or the tracks they run on. While standing in the middle of the RR tracks, he heard a whistle, but didn’t know what it was. Predictably, he’s hit and is thrown, ass-over-tea-kettle, to the side of the tracks, with some minor internal injuries, a few broken bones, and some bruises.
After weeks in the hospital recovering, he’s at his friend’s house attending a party. While in the kitchen, he suddenly hears the teakettle whistling. He grabs a baseball bat from the nearby closet and proceeds to batter and bash the teakettle into an unrecognizable lump of metal. His friend, hearing the ruckus, rushes into the kitchen, sees what’s happened and asks the desert man, “Why’d you ruin my good tea kettle?”
The desert man replies, “Man, you gotta kill these things when they’re small.”
As the passengers settled in on a West Coast commuter flight a flight attendant announced, “We’d like you folks to help us welcome our new co-pilot. He’ll be performing his first commercial landing for us today, so be sure to give him a big round of applause when we come to a stop.”
The plane made an extremely bumpy landing, bouncing hard two or three times before taxiing to a stop. Still, the passengers applauded.
Then the attendant’s voice came over the intercom, “Thanks for flying with us. And don’t forget to let our co-pilot know which landing you liked best.”
On a flight to Florida, I was preparing my notes for one of the parent-education seminars I conduct as an educational psychologist.
The elderly woman sitting next to me explained that she was returning to Miami after having spent two weeks visiting her six children, 18 grandchildren and ten great- grandchildren in Boston. Then she inquired what I did for a living.
I told her, fully expecting her to question me for free professional advice.
Instead she sat back, picked up a magazine and said, “If there’s anything you want to know, just ask me.”