The Universe According to Monty Python

I just learned yesterday that the Windycon Science Fiction Convention wants me to give my presentation of “The Universe According to Monty Python.” The idea for producing such a presentation came to me while watching some videos people had created using the Galaxy Song as a score. The Galaxy Song, frequently referred to as The Universe Song is from Monty Python's _The Meaning of Life_. (Note that in the preceeding sentence I couldn't use the “M” word (movie) after the movie title as that sequence of words apparently makes my service provider's security go into censor mode. Don't ask me why – I'm still waiting for an answer from them.) Anyway, the song is sung by Eric Idle and the lyrics are:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just 3,000 light years wide.
We're 30,000 light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

For my presentation I will take the song a line at a time and explore that line of thought. For example, with respect to the line “And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space” I plan to talk about the Drake Equation. And as good fortune would have it I will also be participating in a panel discussion on the Drake Equation at the convention.

For the line “So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure” I plan on doing some comparisons between the average person and the number of atoms it takes to make up a person versus the number of people it would take to make up the mass of the Sun. Nothing like throwing around really big numbers.

Of course some of the lines are not astronomical. For example, “And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft.” For this particular line I intend to have pictures of several world leaders that we would all be better off without. Folks like Kim Sung II, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro, etc.

The unanswered question facing me right now is whether or not to participate in the Windycon art show. The Windycon art show and auction is probably the best of the Chicago area science fiction conventions and I really should not miss the opportunity to exhibit some of my artwork there. Stay tuned to learn the answer.

The Windycon Science Fiction convention will be held Nov 10-12 2006 at the Wyndham O'Hare in Rosemont IL.

Ad Astra, Jim

| Return to the Blog Index | This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 2:39 pmand is filed under Presentations.

5 Responses to “The Universe According to Monty Python”

  1. Lori says:
    November 1, 2006 at 1:23 am

    It's probably a bit late now, but why _wouldn't _ you exhibit in the art show? I went to three local cons last year and saw many of the same pieces– if nothing else your work would be new.
    Glad to see you blogging up a storm, and looking forward to seeing you at Windy,

  2. Plaxco says:
    November 1, 2006 at 3:54 am

    Hi Lori,

    Why wouldn't I exhibit in the art show? You know I have no really good answer for that. At this point I guess the whole creative process aspect of art is far more interesting to me than the presentation component, which is something I really do need to work on.

    I'm going to be the Science Guest of Honor at next year's Duckon Science Fiction Convention and am sort of committed to putting on a show there. While a decent selection of my Mars-related work is online at, my astronomical art has only been seen by my fellow IAAA (International Association of Astronomical Artists) members and the rest, not at all except for some pieces I had in the Windycon art show several years ago. These pieces will eventually see the light of day once I get the chance to complete work on my web site, now woefully behind schedule due to competing projects.

    As always Lori it's nice to hear from you and I hope to see you at Windycon.


  3. David Angus says:
    August 12, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Hi Jim

    Brilliant idea! To run a programmen item/event around Monty Pythons Galaxy Song. Hope this gets through to you.

    Dave the Planetbuilder

  4. JesusinOz says:
    November 6, 2007 at 1:57 am

    I'd say Castro has done a great deal of good for a great many people … wouldn't argue about the other two – but Ahmadinejad only exists because of the real leader the world could really do without – the loony George Bush (surely America can do better?)

  5. Plaxco says:
    November 8, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Hello JesusinOz,

    No dictator for life has ever done his people any good. I'd say the Castro regime has killed far more people than they've helped. And given the number of people who've risked their lives and everything they own to escape Castro's Cuba, I'd say that most every Cuban who has escaped would strongly disagree with you.

    As to Ahmadinejad, if the mullahs who put him in power have any common sense what so ever, they'll dump him and install someone with at least a modicum of sanity. You want looney – Ahmadinejad is in a class by himself.