From: Sean Ahern (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Another story for Dave (if he's even here)
Date: 3 Aug 1995 17:08:58 GMT
On Tue, 1 Aug 1995 16:54:45 -0700 Dante Marcelo wrote:
This week, a million fraternity brothers rushed to join NASA. The reason:
scientists have discovered beer in space.
Well, not beer exactly. But they did find alcohol: ethyl alcohol, to be
precise, the active ingredient in all major alcoholic drinks (antifreeze
Jell-O shots, quite obviously, are exempted from this category). Three
British scientists, Drs. Tom Millar, Geoffrey MacDonald and Rolf Habing,
discovered this interstellar Everclear floating in a gas cloud in the
contellation of Aquila (sign of the Eagle, the mascot of Anheuser-Busch!
Millar and his compatriots have estimated the size of this gas cloud at
approximately 1,000 times the diameter of our own solar system; there's
enough alcohol out there, they say, to make 400 trillion trillion pints of
beer. These guys are British, mind you; if you were to translate this in
terms of American beer (which the British, with some justification, regard
as fermented club soda), the amount of potential brewski just about
In human terms: remember that double-keg party you threw at the end of your
Junior year in college (the second Junior year)? Imagine throwing that same
party, every eight hours, for the next 30 billion years. You'd STILL have
beer left over. And boy, would YOUR bathroom be a mess! Simply put, no one
could ever drink 400 trillion trillion pints of beer, except maybe Buffalo
The sheer volume of all this alcohol begs the question of how it managed to
get out there in the first place. Despite the simplifying effect it has on
the human brain, ethyl alcohol is a reasonably complex molecule: two carbon
atoms, five hydrogen atoms, and a hydroxyl radical, all cavorting together
in beery camaraderie. It's not a compound that is going to spontaneously
arise out of the cold depths of space. It can lead to speculation: What is
1. It's God's beer. After all, He worked for six days creating the
universe, and on the seventh day, He rested. And after you've had a hard
week at the office, don't YOU grab a beer? Since man is made in God's
image, it could be that this cloud is the remaining evidence of the first,
best Miller Time.
2. It's Purgatory ("400 trillion trillion bottles of beer on the wall, 400
trillion trillion bottles of beer! Take one down, pass it around, three
hundred ninety-nine septillion, nine hundred ninety-nine sextillion, nine
hundred ninety-nine quintillion, nine hundred ninety-nine quadrillion, nine
hundred ninety-nine trillion, nine hundred ninety-nine billion, nine
hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine
hundred ninety-nine, bottles of beer on the wall!")
3. Proof of an undeniably highly advanced but chronically dipsomaniac alien
society. This particular theory is shaky, however: it's reasonable to
assume that if the aliens were going to construct a nebula of alcohol,
they'd also have large clouds of Beer Nuts and pretzels nearby for
snacking. Advanced spectral analysis has yet to locate them.
The truth of the matter, however, is far more prosaic. In the middle of
this gas cloud is a young and no doubt quite inebriated star. As the star
heats up and contracts, sucking the dust and gas of the cloud into a
smaller area, complex molecules form as a result of greater interaction
between the elements. Ethyl alcohol forms on small motes of dust in the
cloud, and then, as the motes angle in closer towards the star and heat up,
the alcohol is released from the motes in gaseous form. And there you have
it: an alcohol cloud. Or, as Dave Bowman might say, "My God! It's full of
Enough with the science lesson, you say. Just tell me how to GET there!
Sorry, Chuckles. You can't get there from here. The gas cloud (which, by
the way, has the utterly romantic name of "G34.3") is 10,000 light years
away: 58 quadrillion miles. Even if you hijacked the shuttle and headed out
with thrusters on full, by the time you got there, the guy in Purgatory
would be done with his tune. You'd have had time to work up a powerful
thirst, but you'd also be, in a word, dead.
No, the Space Beer Cloud will have to wait for the far future, when men can
leap through the universe at warp speed. One can only imagine what they
will do when they get there:
Captain Kirk: My....GOD! Sulu! What....is....THAT?
Sulu: It's a free floating cloud of alcohol, sir.
Kirk: And we've just run out of Romulan Ale! Could it be a trap, Bones?
Bones: Damn it, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a distiller of fine spirits!
Kirk: We need that booze! But if we fly through that cloud, we'll be too
drunk to drive!
Spock: May I remind you, Jim, that I am a Vulcan. We are a race of
Kirk: Well, all righty, then. Spock, drive us through! Bones and I will be
out on the hull. With our mouths... open!
To boldly drink what no man has drunk before.