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Posted at 9:12 AM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Scientists estimate three times the number of stars? I blame Snooki

By Alexandra Petri

Scientists suggested Wednesday that the estimated number of stars in the Universe might have to triple! I think this finding says a lot about our culture.

apimagenasa.jpg (Image via AP/NASA)

Ron Cowen at Science News reported that "Astronomers who examined eight relatively nearby galaxies have found evidence of a surprisingly high abundance of faint, low-mass stars."

I initially assumed this sentence was about today's celebrity culture. "You're telling me, Ron!" I shouted. "This is what we get for calling people like the Kardashians stars -- well, this and some debit card-related problems. "Faint, low mass?" That describes Lindsay Lohan perfectly.

But then I noticed it was about space.

This devaluation of what it means to be a star has gone too far. First Star magazine. Then Star Jones. After they put Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars, it was only a matter of time.

Before, I used to look up at the stars and feel like a tiny, insignificant speck. Now the feeling's mutual!

What has happened? Remember when stars were big? Blue giants? White giants? White dwarfs? It's not the pictures -- it's the stars that have gotten small. Sure, there's more, but more doesn't mean better! Look at Octomom!

"Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?" Don't -- it'll encourage them! Tell those millions of little stars they can go twinkle twinkle somewhere else!

Nowadays, we barely have enough star power to guest-star on an episode of Glee! Instead of finding twice the current number of stars, but dim, unimpressive, and probably maintaining active Twitter accounts rife with misspellings, can't we just find one really big, bright star? It shouldn't be too hard. Just picture the space equivalent of Natalie Portman.

To console myself, I've been waiting eagerly for NASA's big announcement concerning extraterrestrial life (maybe they found some that is thinking of running in 2012!) which I assume will be like Christmas, if you replace "Santa" with "bacteria that feed on arsenic." I worry that it will be as disappointing as the time I thought my parents were going to tell me they'd discovered extraterrestrial life and it turned out Uncle Ron had passed.

By Alexandra Petri  | December 2, 2010; 9:12 AM ET
Categories:  Petri, Worst Things Ever  | Tags:  Star Wars, space  
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Good heavens, what’s wrong with having a lot more small, low-mass stars? It’s the world-wide Internet age, and the demand for new stars is sky high. Who will all those new Internet users in China and India have to look up to if all we have to offer them is old Michael Jackson videos?

Personally, I prefer higher-mass stars like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley. But today anorexia is in style, and smaller stars have stepped in to fill the void.

And yes, Natalie Portman may be a big star, but her father is a fertility specialist. We can expect a lot of small, low-mass Portmans to be discovered real soon.

Posted by: divtune | December 2, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I do not mind people having fun. But this was the only article I found in the Post on this news and I expected some facts. All I got was blather and really stupid blather at that.

Sorry - I call them as I see them.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 2, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse


I don't think you understand what a "blog" is. If you click on the underlined word (link) in the first paragraph that says "triple", it will take you to the Washington Post factual article on this discovery. Follow the rest of the links, and you'll learn a lot more about this subject too.

In fact, if you read this blog regularly and check out the links, you'll be pretty well-informed about current news.

What you call "blather" is the part that makes you think about what it means to discover all these new stars. Of course, everyone always says there's a chance one of them could support alien life.

Petri points out the absurdity of this obsession with aliens through satire, a delightful form of writing that any reader of Shakespeare will recognize.

And may her uncle Ron rest in piece, hopefully with E.T.

Posted by: divtune | December 3, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

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