Feelin’ Like Tantalus Blues

Remember the story of Tantalus, from Greek mythology?

No? Well, there’s a reason why Tantalus is the source of the English word tantalize, for when Tantalus murdered his own son, Pelops, chopped him up, boiled him, and served him as a feast to the gods, he was punished by being made to stand in a pool of water, above him was a fruit-bearing tree branch that moved out of reach every time Tantalus reached for it, and every time he lowered his head to drink from the pool the water receded, leaving him perpetually hungry and thirsty.

Given that we’re running out of water here on Earth, I was reminded of Tantalus when I read the following, via Wired:

Black Hole Holds Universe’s Biggest Water Supply

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever found in the universe. It’s 12 billion light years away, and holds at least 140 trillion times the amount of water in all the Earth’s oceans combined.

It manifests itself as a colossal mass of water vapor, hidden in the distant APM 08279+5255 quasar. Quasars are bright and violent galactic nuclei fueled by a supermassive black hole at their center.

Ok. Great. Tons of water, more than we could ever need, only it’s 12 billion light years away.

I laughed out loud when a Wired reader commented: “Does anyone have a really, really long hose?”

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