Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Galaxy Song by Monty Python

At a recent pub trivia night sponsored by the Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon), a question came up for which only two of our groups knew the answer. The hint was something like this: "In Monty Python's song about the galaxy, what is the name of the housewife and lifelong liver donor?" 

I was surprised by how few people knew the answer, so I thought it was high time to share the Galaxy Song once more, a song where Eric Idle sings of the grandness of our universe for a housewife whom life has gotten down. 

Here it is for all of your viewing pleasure:

So what was the answer to that trivia question?

The housewife and lifelong liver donor in the galaxy song is Mrs. Brown

Here are the lyrics for those of you who are interested:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the 'milky way'

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide

We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause it's bugger all down here on Earth

The Galaxy Song is quite a fantastic little diddy for considering how insignificant we seem to be in the grand scheme of things. 

Paul Kohlmiller, writing for the San Jose Astronomical Society's ephemeris back in 2003, commented on some of the astronomical figures that Eric Idle used in the original Galaxy Song. I highly recommend checking out his updates for those who are interested.

Cheers all! And remember, we may not seem very significant in the grand scheme of things, but that in itself may make us all the more important. We are unique beings, on a world full of unique beings, which come together to form a biosphere, which evolves along with the changing dynamics of a planet, and this planet, thus far, is the only one we know of with life. We're looking for others and hoping to find them, but until then, we remain quite alone.

An image taken from Science Dump of what our galaxy might look like and which shows the relative location of the several thousand stars we can see with our naked eye at night here on this little rock that orbits our Sun

Update (11 July 2016):

A friend pointed out to me that there's a version of The Galaxy Song which is sung by Stephen Hawking. I absolutely had to come back and share that here:

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