Laniakea: scientists' name for our cosmic home





I always knew Leicester was of cosmic significance.


I’m sure scientists are hard at work measuring our Immeasurable Heaven.


I haven’t measured mine since I was a teenager, but I’m no scientician.


Needs a warning for painful background music.


You mean, “Laniakea”?


Yep, thanks!


You’re most welcome! But…wait…you…you weren’t…offended by my correction? On the Internet? faints


I do not understand why it needs a name. Do we need to discuss this galactic cluster with scientists from other galactic clusters?


It’s a way of distinguishing our galactic cluster from other galactic clusters we may be studying.
Besides, astronomers have been giving flowery poetic names for things for centuries, it’s one of the fun parts of being an astronomer.


No, but certainly we need to discuss these clusters with each other, and to students…

And we humans like to name things.


Especially when we don’t even have a name for our own galaxy. Which is not to be confused with the local part of it we see in our night sky.


Actually when one calls the thing you see in the sky the Milky Way, one really is referring to the entire galaxy we live in. At least according to Wikipedia: “The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System.” And since we live on the edge, I would say we are seeing most of it… or at least most of one half of it. Which is the general case when looking at objects X-D


I’m aware of that. But this seems to me to be a lazy post-rationalisation for what was originally (and of course ignorantly) a synecdoche. In any case it’s not really a name and is more of a description. It’s like having everyone refer to certain cities as ‘the Windy City’, ‘the Venice of the North’, ‘the Smoke’.

If it is a name, it’s a crap one. We should come up with something better.


Still, if there is only one, there is no need for a name. Did you know that until his death, the Emperor of Japan is named simply, “the Emperor?” Only after death do they get named “Emperor Meiji” or “Showa” or whatever. Likewise the Moon and the Galaxy have no names. I suppose, in many languages Earth doesn’t either, being called simply “the world.”

But I can see fun overrules that argument. Therefore I suggest we henceforth call the moon “Princess Serenity.”


Exposure to too much SF has created the illusion that the official names of the moon, the earth and the sun are Luna, Terra, and Sol. Following this example: Vialactea ?


An interesting thought:

We haven’t named our galaxy or our world because we as humans tend to believe/feel/think we are the center of everything. This isn’t a conscious thing, really. Why would we need to name OUR galaxy? It’s THE galaxy! Other galaxies need to be named because, well, they are other galaxies. Same goes with OUR moon and OUR earth (world).


Naming the little bits of warmth and light is a comforting distraction from the brooding awareness of the eldrich horrors forever haunting the incomprehensible vastness of the void.


I suspect that the speed of light has us covered on this one; but your post reminds me that a number of the human groups isolated enough to call themselves some local-language equivalent of ‘the people’…did poorly…when their more cosmopolitan neighbors showed up.


Take heart; you’re on Boing Boing, where some folks know about stuff like cognitive biases and logical fallacies.