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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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An Astronomical Paradox

Just a few years ago, most astronomers would have predicted that, as they examined larger and larger volumes of the universe, they would find more and more homogeneity. The Big Bang Theory predicts this; and it is seconded by the isotropy of the microwave background radiation. The mapping of the universe, however, has actually turned up all manner of galactic clusters, superclusters, and great skeins of superclusters strung across the heavens. Instead of a puree of matter, there is more and more structure the farther we peer into space.

R.B. Tully, at the University of Ha waii, now charts a billion-light-year structure that he calls the Pisces-Cetus complex. This aggregation of galaxies includes us (the Milky Way), our Local Supercluster, and many neighboring superclusters. In actuality, the PiscesCetus complex is not a continuous structure. Rather, it is defined by a plane -- one containing a host of superclusters as well as voids. The problem posed for theorists is that they can suggest no way in which such a far flung manifestation of order could have evolved in the time available since the Big Bang.

(Waldrop, M. Mitchell; "The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe Gets Larger-- Maybe," Science, 238:804, 1987.)

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987