reply to post by GoOfYFoOt
I had the same reaction (as I do most of the time anymore with "science") but I completely forgot that bit about the galaxy.
They make it look so much like a real picture when you see it, you forget that no one has ever "photographed" it from that vantage point. We keep
Just like the Atom itself. We all "know" what an Atom looks like because we've seen the canonical representation of a Sun-like nucleus made up of
protons and neutrons and the electrons are almost quite literally "orbiting" the center as do planets. In reality, no one has seen an Atom to
confirm this Gestalt imagery. It's metaphorical. If it starts to affect not only our understanding of the atom and its shape and implied movements
and we devise theories and experiments that only look at the Atom in that way, we fall victim of discovering more and more about something that is not
what we think it is. Not unlike religious iconography versus real belief, faith or doctrine. Loose comparison, but you get my point...
In other words:
-The Atom looks like something (we can't be sure...yet...ever???) and serves purposes and performs functions we sort of understand a little about,
kinda, to a certain extent. We're kind of sure how it interacts with other atoms in lots - but not all - actually probably not very many, but still
quite a lot of situations.
-The Milky Way Galaxy looks like something (we can't be 100% sure...we know what other Galaxies look like from afar, but we don't really "know"
what they look like up close, but we can infer a lot of stuff from infrared and radio waves and such) and serves purposes and performs functions we
sort of understand...ditto from above...
- an artists rendering of our Galaxy made from composits of far-off observations (where observation is usually done through the visual spectrum in
representation based on non-visual spectrum forms of data collection) of similar objects far away in space mixed with extrapolations on positioning of
various stars and bodies within this very galaxy as though they were seen from a vantage point we do not have (and may never)
-a computer visualization that allows our eyes to see the data sets in a "hollistic" and supposedly "true-to-form" way, but collected by a process
our eye could never perform so as to give that representation or some other true one.
-Compare the two and come to the conclusion they exist in a never ending synecdoche.
**Sorry to above poster I quoted, I think the last part of my post rehashed yours, maybe overcomplicated it, but the basic premise has been rolling
around in my mind for a few weeks now and I wanted to tailor it to the OP's scenario.