Ask Anything

Adrian Northrup

Dear Ask Anything.
If the universe is only 10 billion years old, how can we see things that are 30 billion light-years away?
-Star gazing

This would have been a great question entailing philosophical and scientific debate if it wasn’t for the blatant numerical errors.

First and foremost, astronomers have estimated the universe to be 13 billion years old, said Paul Thomas, a professor in the physics and astronomy department who also happens to have the coolest accent on campus. Second, the furthest images that the Hubble Space Telescope has picked up are approximately 13 billion light years away, the Australian, “Armageddon”-hating professor added.

When the Hubble retrieved these images in September 2003, after leaving the exposure open for a whopping 11 days, the Deepfield Image came back with 10,000 galaxies. What we must understand, however, is that we are seeing them as they were 13 billion years ago because it takes that long for the light to get here. Basically, we’re looking back in time.

Had your math been right, however, Thomas said astronomers would deduce that it would be because of the expansion of the universe or that the speed of light has changed over time.

Either way, this is way out of my league, I think I should take a nap or something. I once heard the premise for String Theory and my brain almost exploded like that guy in “Scanners.”

Dear Ask Anything,
If you are born on Feb. 29, when do you turn 21 so that you can legally drink?
-Waiting and Wondering

To better answer your question I had to consult the national expert on Leap Year. And I thought, who better than the founder of the Worldwide Leap Year Festival in the Leap Year Capital of the World?

Mary Ann Brown, who lives in the small town of Anthony on the Texas-New Mexico border, says she personally celebrates her birthday on Feb. 28. After all, she said, it has to be the right month.

The Eau Claire DMV disagreed, however. When they issue licenses to “Leap Babies,” they have to wait until March 1. I’m assuming bars would be the same way, but you never know.

If you’re sly enough, you might just be able to celebrate both nights. More importantly, check out that Leap Year festival for Leap Babies in 2008 and let me know what the hell it’s all about.

You should see the list of events that includes Wet ‘n Wild Waterworld, parachutes, hot air balloons and Aztec Cave. It’s like Festivus times three!