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The Flying Pigs: James Webb telescope has captured the final front-hair in space

One of the first images released from the James Webb telescope (Photo: NASA/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)
One of the first images released from the James Webb telescope (Photo: NASA/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)

The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.

Professor Hector J Schlenk – senior research fellow, Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

There’s never been a better time for astronomy. Gazing up at the stars is a pleasing distraction from everything that’s happening on our actual planet.

With this in mind, I have been excitedly following Nasa’s new James Webb space telescope since its launch on December 25.

The Flying Pigs

Originally, I had some concerns. Unlike a lot of Christmas Day technology, would batteries be included?

It was also worrying to learn it would be a number of weeks before any images would be returned. This was reminiscent of my early experience of photo developing at Boots the chemist, and I wondered if the pictures would come back with stickers over any rudely-shaped constellations.

The first photo received showed multiple images of the same little white dot. This did not allay my fears, as it looked less like an astronomical marvel and more like the title sequence of Peter Davison’s Doctor Who.

To the pantheon of famous stars, like Alpha Centauri, Sirius and Polaris, we must surely now add this new celestial discovery, the evocatively named 2massj17554042+6551277

However, after a four-month wait for the correct alignment of mirrors – a process I could relate to, as I have similar issues when trying to examine the growth of my increasingly luxuriant ear hair – at last an image has been received of a pin-sharp, eight-pointed star, with many galaxies shimmering in the background. This heavenly body is 2,000 light years away, meaning the light we can see now was emitted at the time of Christ.

To the pantheon of famous stars, like Alpha Centauri, Sirius and Polaris, we must surely now add this new celestial discovery, the evocatively named 2massj17554042+6551277.

The other big science news of the week was the discovery of “hairy” black holes, which sound like something we shouldn’t be Googling at work, but are, in fact, a feature of the gravitational fields surrounding collapsed stars.

Black holes had been previously described as “bald”, as they appeared to have no physical features beyond their size and speed of rotation. However, this has now been superseded by the observation of attributes which scientists, with the sense of humour for which we are justly famous, have named “quantum hair”.

This new discovery appears to have instantly solved the inherent contradictions between Einstein’s theory of special relativity and quantum theory which have puzzled physicists for decades, so you can imagine how bitterly disappointed I was.

When I heard the name, I had thought for one joyous moment that it might mean the discovery of actual hair, albeit existing on a quantum level, meaning that somewhere in the five-dimensional space of the multiverse, there was a plane of existence in which I’m not bald as a baby’s bahoochie.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who’s never been linked to an oligarch (unless you count Dick Donald)

It’s the end of an area at Pittodrie, with legendary hard man Scott Brown deciding it’s time to hang up his boots. I wonder where he’s hung them?

When I retired, I asked my Melody if I could frame a pair of my boots and hang them in the TV room for posteriority, but she says to me, she says: “Gads sake, Kenny! There’s no way I’m having those manky old things up on our walls!” I hope Mrs Brown is more accumulating than Mrs Cordiner.

I feel sorrow for Brooner. He moved to the Dons hoping to finish his playing career and slide into a coaching role alongside gaffer Glass. He took a massive risk moving to a club where the supporters thought he was the devil intestate but, in typical fashion, he met the challenge square on and, by Christmas, he’d won over even the most spectacle of fans.

He wasn’t to know, however, that Stevie G was going to make a fig’s ear out of his time in the Pittodrie hot tub, and when Jimmy Goodwin come in the fat lady was singing the writing on the wall for Scott.

Brown’s short-lived stint as a Dandy reminds me of my brief spell with Hermes, sworn enemy of one of my former clubs, Hall Russell United.

When I first arrived at a training session, the tension was palatable. The players all stopped their drills and says to me, they says: “What are you doing here?” So, I says to them, I says: “I was invited – I got a wee card through my door.”

Turns out it was all big misunderstanding. What I thought was a call up to be a coach for Hermes FC turned out to be a delivery note telling us my Melody’s new handbag had been left in our wheelie bin.


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