U

Umbrella term

An umbrella term is a single, general term that encompasses a range of related specific terms.

Conversation starter

Is 'umbrellas' an umbrella term for a collection of umbrellas?

Universe

Here's a fun riddle for you. What's there when you wake up, still there when you go to bed, and is the answer to this riddle? Answer: the universe.

The definition of the universe varies depending on who you ask. When a scientist talks about the universe, it means all the matter and energy that makes up God's creation, such as stars, planets, black holes, pencil sharpeners and conservatives. When wooing a woman, a scientist may forego correctness and declare, "you are my universe." When a small-minded xenophobe uses the word 'universe', it means America.

Etymology of Universe

From the combination of Latin words unus (one) and versus (turned). Interpreted as "one turn" or "this ain't no rehearsal."

The universe is.

The universe is.

Xenophobia notwithstanding, the universe has been estimated by astronomers to be 93 billion light-years in diameter. This figure has since been confirmed by astrologers. To put this distance in perspective, that's nearly 94,605,284,000,000 football fields.

You might wonder how the universe was measured given that most tape measures wouldn't measure up.1 Astronomers estimated the universe's size by first estimating its age, which was done by observing the oldest stars. Knowing that this ancient starlight, which is now reaching Earth, has travelled at lightspeed for almost the entire life of the universe, means astronomers can multiply the speed of light by the age of those stars to reach the above diameter, and seduce all the women.

A scientist works his mojo.

A scientist works his mojo.

This method of measurement depends on observable light, so it only indicates the size of the observable universe. The physical universe is estimated to be much bigger. Perhaps by as many as seven football fields. Observations of unobservable light are ongoing.


  1. What fun we're having.