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Is the solar system a helix or what?


Sort of. Bits of it…?

Although, my little monkey-man brain thought not at first.

Sort of.

First things first. I imagine everyone on the internet has seen this:

or its predecessors (or its gif versions) at least 42 times in the last couple of years. Very popular and very pretty it is too.

As the creator says it’s not to scale, for various sensible reasons, but is it accurate?

I’m no Star-doctor so I did a bit of delving around the internet and ploughing through various comment sections it became apparent that some people say Yes! and some say No! and some say Welllll, yes and no.

At first I thought it can’t be accurate as the sun takes 250,000,000 years (depending on which estimate you want to use) to orbit the galactic centre and my little brain tried to imagine 250 million little squiggles around the edges of one of those 360° protractors you had at school.

Surely this would make a solid cylinder, not a long wavy helix, if you animated it? I imagined a super squished slinky toy.

Like the two ends here rather than the middle.

I thought I would soon prove myself right, and the silly animating man (or woman) wrong, by doing some maths and stuff.

Liking the slinky idea, I first imagined the earth to have a diameter of one millimetre.

This would make the sun 10.9 cm in diameter.

They would be 11.929 metres apart (on average, as the earth’s orbit is slightly squished).

So far so good: I can imagine a grapefruit being orbited by a broken pencil nib about five and a half me-heights away from each other. (At a 60° angle to the galactic plane).

Next up is a bit more difficult (I think I’ve done the maths right but it made my brain hurt a bit)

Galactic centre would be about 19,527,559 km away from our grapefruit and slinky/pencil nib combo.

This means we would have to walk in a circle 122,600,000 km long.

Every 488 metres that we walk, our 1mm wide slinky wire will complete one orbit around us. (Actually we’ll have to fly otherwise we’ll scuff the grass up a bit.)

Holding the grapefruit, and a ten metre stick with our 1mm earth on the end, we will have to walk at 711,000 km/h. (Hmm, we might run out of grass here).

It will take just over a week to complete the full circle around galactic centre*.

I think.

So, anyway I was wrong to imagine the super condensed slinky forming an elliptical tube around galactic centre. It would indeed be a helix, although a verrrry long one.

I can see about sixty coils in that slinky above. You’ll have to stretch it out 29km end to end.

Space is weird

and big.

So the animator is right about the helix thing but:

Once again, I am not a space-science man but it seems to me that on the video he (or she) has also confused the earth’s axial precession (26,000 years) with the amount of time it takes to cross the galactic plane (about 30,000,000 years).

By my calcliations our grapefruit will have to cross the galactic plane about 8 times a week (or eight times every 250,000,000 years in the real universe).

On top of that, I have no idea how he makes the sun itself move in a helix. How does it get attracted towards galactic centre and then pushed out again? Up and down is fine (relative to galactic plane of course)

Is he trolling?

Either that or she knows something I don’t.

(Or he’s made a genuine mistake I suppose)

Please, send any corrections or head-massage devices to the usual address…

Measurements wot I used:

Diameter of Earth: 12,742 km

Earth to sun: 152,000,000 km

Sun is 109 times bigger than earth.

Sun to galactic centre: 8000 parsecs

One parsec is about 31 trillion km


Estimates of the length of time for the Solar System to orbit once around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy range from 225 to 250 million terrestrial years. I went for 250 million.

*So the first dinosaurs were in about the same position as we are now (relative to GC)


Lens Flare!

Lens Flare!

The 12/12/12 Conundrum

As everyone* is so upset at tomorrow being the last repetitive date 12/12/12  (or 12/12/12 using the US/Canadian middle-endian date format) I propose that to stop all the sobbing and renting of garments we shall henceforth start up a New Calendar.

So, Thursday will now be the First of Weavuary in the Year of our Weave 1 A.W.

I’ll let you all know the new names of the months as and when I can be bothered.

Xmas will now be on the 18th of Weavuary, so put that in your new diary.

This of course also means that tomorrow (12/12/12) will now be New New Years Eve. Hope everyone is happy with that. Just let your boss know that you won’t be coming in on New New Years Day due to your NNYE celebrations but be sensible, you don’t want to be hanging too much on 1/1/1!

Accepting this super new Weavorian** Calendar will also mean you can gormlessly stare at your watches and work time sheets several times in the coming decade. 2/2/2 next year and a mega 1/2/3 the year after. Order the new calendars from me directly and I’ll send them out whilst stocks last***.

If you can read this sentence then this might have been nicked from (or you have good eyesight)

 *not everyone
**this is not in any way an ego driven project
***until I run out of crayons

Top Ten Rules for Writing

1. Stop looking at lists of rules for writing stuff.

2. Write stuff.

How to fix a broken iPhone

“OH noooooes!!!” You cry.

“I have dropped my iPhone (or pet) on a concrete floor.” You say.

“Disaster has stricken!”  You weep.

DO NOT FEAR. I implore

There is a fix for this:


Take a small piece of the concrete floor, just a speck will do, place this in a glass of water (tap water is fine but be careful with all that fluoride!! (maybe natural rain water is better I keep buckets in my shed (my shed has a leaky roof) but anyway) I digress)

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE the water with the tiny piece of concrete in it. First this way, then that, then that other way, twenty times each. (You may like to listen to some suitable shaking music at this point as it takes a bit of time (oddly Shakin’ Stevens doesn’t work as well as I had expected). This shaking is called succession.

Now take one drop of this first glass of water and place it in another. Shake it in the same manner described above. Repeat this process at least 20 to 30 times. If the screen on your phone is very badly cracked then I would recommend 35 successions.

If you have done this successfully then we can get ready to fix that dropped iPhone (or child).

Now, simply place the iPhone into the glass of Homeopathic concrete remedy and leave overnight.

It really is that simple.

Do let me know how you got on in the comments below. If you can read this bit then this crap has been stolen from or the background colour has changed

How Similar to Osama bin Laden Are You?

It is totally topical.

Exactly 102 days after the first anniversary of some events in North-East Pakistan we bring you this thing below.

To find out what you’re like, please answer the following questions with either a YES or alternatively, if you so prefer, a NO. Keep track of your score and at the end of this spectacularly scientific psychological QUIZ we’ll be able to see exactly how similar you are to the dead* idiot Osama bin Laden.

*(or is he?)

((yes he is))

Okay, are you ready?

Let’s quizzing!

  1. Are you against one-person suicide attacks?
  2. Are you, however of the opinion that instead at least two persons should be sent to undertake these attacks?
  3. Do you reject the “immoral” act of fornication?
  4. Do you reject the “immoral” act of homosexuality?
  5. Do you reject the “immoral” act of intoxicants?
  6. Do you reject the “immoral” act of gambling?
  7. Do you reject the “immoral” act of usury?
  8. Do you oppose pan-Arabism?
  9. Do you oppose socialism?
  10. Do you oppose communism?
  11. Do you oppose democracy?
  12. Do you believe that civilians may be deliberately killed in your struggle?
  13. Do you hate America?
  14. Do you hate Jews?
  15. Do you hate Christians?
  16. Do you oppose music?
  17. Do you have a love of horse racing?
  18. Do you think America has destroyed nature with its industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history?
  19. And that despite this, they refused to sign the Kyoto agreement so that they could secure the profit of their greedy companies and industries?
  20. Are you interested in earth-moving machinery?
  21. Are you interested in the genetic engineering of plants?
  22. Do you believe in the conspiracy theory that says John F. Kennedy was killed by the “owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from the Vietnam War‘s continuation”?

Okay! So how did you do?

Zero Yes’ses

You are nothing like Osama bin Laden! Great news if you’ve just bought a three storey property in Abottabad and don’t like helicopters falling on your stuff.

One Yes!

You are probably a mechanical earth digger thingy driver (who is ok with solo suicide bombers) and not too much like Ossie at all really… but still a bit more than you were expecting, hmmm? Makes you think doesn’t it?**

Two yesses’

You’re a generally non-violent, gay Jockey!

Three yessis

You’re an environmentalist who’s ok with sciencey tings.

Four to Twelve yes’s

You’re a Republican.

Thirteen to Twenty-one yess

Some kind of conspiracy theorist?

Twenty-two palpable yes’s

Oh. You’re not dead after all…

If you can read this bit then this crap has been stolen from or the background colour has changed

** No, not really.

Source: wiki

Hu Jintao is the president of China? I don’t know, Hu Jintao is the president of china?

Wait, I said that wrong.

Anyway, today I was at Ta Prohm (the temple from Tomb Raider and Two Brothers) in Siem Reap, Cambodia  and found myself just 2 metres away from the President of the most powerful country of the 21st century (I imagine).

I had already seen a lot of security dotted around outside the temple walls  but then after an hour or so of taking photos of big tree roots in temples and taking photos of tourists taking photos of big tree roots in temples, I found my path blocked by lots of tourists taking photos of lots of security blokes.


Just then one of the tourists started shouting out “Ni Hao Ma? Ni Hao Ma?” and other stuff as well but not being able to speak Chinese I couldn’t tell you what. With her voice ringing loudly through the otherwise peaceful 830 year old Angkorian ruins a man in a white shirt and thin-rimmed glasses began to move through the security cordon and approach the excited crowd. I asked someone nearby who this man was and was given the reply of “The… er… King of China”.


Well, he seemed a lot more smiley than you might think and certainly quite approachable, so what would you do given this opportunity? You’d have to ask a quick question or two surely…wouldn’t you?

  • Excuse me, Mr President?
  • Yes?
  • Are you a fan of the Tomb Raider films?
  • Of course, I am a great admirer of Angelina Jolie and her lovely advocacy work.
  • Brill, thanks President Hu. One more question, if I may?
  • Go on…
  • When China rules the world, will you make me the King of England, please?
  • Hahaha! Of course, why not?

And off went the ‘King’ of China and his entourage.

What a nice man.


No matter how rich and powerful I will inevitably become whilst ruling my presumably elated subjects in the People’s Republic of China’s United Kingdom of England and Wales and the Falklands, I will never forget our first meeting on that wonderfully sunny, Sunday, April 1st 2012.

Hmmm, now, what new law shall I introduce first..?If you can read these words then this thing has been stolen from Maybe.

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