Be travel takes time. And now, from our 'The Sky Is Not The Limit' department, we proudly present:

Subject: Great Cloud of Beer in Space
Source: Jack Kolb < >

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! Hmmmmm).
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;
f 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 doubles.
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 Bills fans.
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 this cloud?
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 booze!"
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!
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: 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 designated drivers.
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.


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