Stellar Racism: Black Holes and Brown Dwarfs

Recently, a Dallas county commissioner Kenneth Mayfield (melanin expression: low) used the term “black hole” to describe a bureaucracy in the county, to which another commissioner, John Wiley Price (melanin expression: higher), objected and corrected his esteemed colleague by saying that the bureaucracy was a “white hole”.

The presiding judge, Thomas Jones (melanin expression: higher) demanded an apology from Mayfield for his “racially insensitive analogy”. You can read the story here, Dallas County officials spar over ‘black hole’ comment

Now, most people know what a black hole is. One may form when a large star explodes and provided there’s enough mass, voila ! (correct me as deemed necessary).

It’s an astronomical term with no racial undertones, it appears that Mr. Wiley and Mr. Jones are not guilty of PC policing but of ignorance. I’m not sure which is worse, I’ll leave that to the peanut gallery.

For my part, I’m Mexican and vertically-challenged so can I roll with Wiley and Jones’ outrage when I hear the astronomical term, brown dwarf?

Now that I think about it, brown dwarf is pretty offensive. I’m suing astronomy, the corpses of Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, Copernicus, and Gene Roddenberry. Why stop there? We’ll go after NASA, JPL, the European Space Agency, Jill Tarter (the hegemonic and oppressive xenophobe who coined the phrase) and George Lucas (maybe I can recover the money I’ve spent on his Star Wars brand through the years).

Where’s Jackie Chiles when you need him?


Is Cosmology a Science?

The following excerpt is from the article (“A Singular Conundrum: How Odd is Our Universe?”) found in the respected journal Science [317, 1850 (2007)],

“Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science” says James Gunn of Princeton University co-founder of the Sloan survey. “A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can’t do that in cosmology.”

Truth be told the article wades into far deeper waters than most people are accustomed to, myself included (Give me a good SUMOylation paper any day of the week).

But it doesn’t take someone with the good professor’s credentials in astronomy to see that his words can also be extrapolated to other scientific fields, whose very nature make repeatable experiments an impossibility.

That this impossibility is ignored is not surprising given the philosophical underpinnings…