The Big Universe


In his book, The Book of Naturalists (1944), naturalist William Beebe related an interesting anecdote about him and his friend Theodore Roosevelt during his visits to Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s residence. Roosevelt and Beebe would go out after an evening of talk and dinner and search the night sky until they locate the faint spot of light-mist beyond the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then they would recite the following lines:

That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda.
It is as large as our Milky Way.
It is one of a hundred million galaxies.
It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.

Roosevelt would then smile and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.”

Anyway, this story reminds me of “Galaxy Song”, a song performed by the Monty Python in the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983):

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

11 thoughts on “The Big Universe

  1. Roosevelt sincerely appreciated our natural world. I wish I was farther away from the glow of the night lights to see the stars better. Years ago, I lived in a very rural area of Montana and experienced a galaxy filled with stars. It was truly amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My place is far from the city (it’s beside a mountain), but I can still see the effect of light pollution. In Lantau Islands, it’s a bit better. However, one has to go to China to find a truly dark sky…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would have expected that Lantau Island is too close to the city for this. And there is so much humidity in the air, I would think that the haze might scatter the star light as well.
        Do you go to stay on Lantau Island overnight? Do people camp out there? I hiked the island one day, and it seemed like there were very few people around.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. HK is small, so everything is close to the city. It’s normally humid here especially in March to July.

        People like to camp out there since as you said, there are not that many people in the area. The island also has several inns to accomodate those who stay overnight.

        My classmates and I used to go there to grill barbecue and camp out.

        Liked by 1 person

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