Grasping at stars

Grasping at stars

In space orthopedics, images from the Chandra X-ray Observatory have diagnosed the first known case of intergalactic carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

The new image shows a condition known as pareidolia, or pulsar wind nebula, a particularly painful type of CTS caused by repeatedly grabbing things.  The X-ray shows severe ligament damage in the PSR B1509-58 area (shown in white in the picture above).  The diagnosis was confirmed by doctors at Cal Tech using the NuSTAR telescope.

Scientists aren’t sure whether the X-ray image actually looks like a hand, or just seems to appear that way.

“We don’t know if the hand shape is an optical illusion, but CTS can be very painful,” said Hongjun An of McGill University in Montreal.  “With NuSTAR, it looks more like a fist, which is completely different from a hand.”  He then repeated the same thing in French, in accordance with Canadian law.

The name of the patient was not released, due to doctor/space phenomenon confidentiality rules.  Religion and orthopedics may not overlap often, but information leaked to tabloids identify the patient as the mythical Greek god Apollo.

One physical therapist, who requested anonymity because he didn’t want his myth to be busted on Mythbusters, traced the likely cause of the injury back to early Greek civilization.  “Apollo spent hundreds of years grabbing the reins of his chariot as he drove it across the sky, and when the Greeks declared him mythological, spent another few centuries driving the same chariot across the same sky for the Roman Empire.  After all that grabbing, you would expect to see repetetive stress injuries like pareidolia.”

After leaving Earth, Apollo was later seen attaching his chariot to the star Gliese 526. This endeavor was discontinued after the peaceful but unconfirmed star-dwellers convinced Apollo that the Gliese system had no planets, and therefore no skies for him to drag their star across.


Since then, Apollo has mostly spent his days grabbing passing starships (pictured above) in search of worshippers. The RCW 89 cloud is the first known object Apollo has grabbed since 1967.

Apollo has been scheduled to come into the office for an exam on Thursday.  Doctors have not ruled out the possibility of surgery.

(Talk to the hand at the top for the original story.)

(Editor’s note: Credit goes to my friend Ken for finding this article before me, and seeing Apollo’s fingerprints all over this story.)

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