Lee Krahenbuhl - This symbol here, commonly known as the Ying-Yang, is actually known as a Taijitu – meaning “diagram of the supreme ultimate”. The principle of Ying and Yang, opposites existing in harmony, is a concept associated with ancient Chinese philosophy. However, the very first use of the iconography representing the principle, as shown to the side, comes from a shield pattern used by the Romans…700 years before its first known use to represent the concept in China. A connection between the two has yet to be found… Regardless of who came up with it first, the symbol was a *bright* idea. But…what’s the brightest object in the entire universe? That is the concept for a video by V Sauce, which analyzes what the actual brightest object in the universe is. The nitty gritty comes in when thinking about “Apparent Magnitude”, a term used when stargazing, and refers to how bright something appears to us, say when looking up from Earth. It depends on some Earth-centric factors, such as the ambient light when viewing the object, and how far away it is from our planet. Apparent Magnitude values are logarithmic in scale and are arranged from positive to negative. It works just like golf, in that the smaller the number, the greater the value of measurement – so negative numbers imply greater brightness. This differs from “Absolute Magnitude” which is a measure of how bright all things in the universe are when viewed from an identical vantage point. For example, a lightbulb very close to your face is apparently brighter than the Sun, but the Sun is obviously billions of times larger than that light bulb, and has a greater absolute brightness on a cosmic scale than does that individual lightbulb. It is in absolute magnitude that we will find the most blinding thing in the universe, irrespective of its apparent scale of brightness to us on Earth. It’s determined in the video, and this is where the Ying and Yang concept comes in, that the source of the brightest light in the universe is also the darkest place in the universe – a black hole. Now, the gravitational force at the center of a black hole is great enough to devour planets, and even stars, and the area at which it consumes these cosmic bodies is called the Event Horizon. At this event horizon, the star being consumed forms rings, known as accretion discs, around the black hole, and the black hole vomits, in a sense a plume of radiation stretching hundreds of times further than the distance of our solar system. The combined light of these accretion discs, plus the long radiation plume, are collectively referred to as a Quasar – and that, is the brightest thing in the universe.
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