Science: Cosmic Error?

How old is the Milky Way? Astronomers have long considered it one of the older galaxies; Sir James Jeans deduced from its shape that the Milky Way (which includes the Earth) is probably in an advanced stage of senility. But this week one of the world's most eminent authorities on galaxies, Harvard's Professor Harlow Shapley, suggested that Sir James had it all backward. According to Shapley's theory, the Milky Way is in the first, not the last, stage of evolution.

Astronomers have observed that galaxies seem to come in four shapes: 1) spherical, 2)...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!