Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wait, How Big?

We as humans often think of ourselves as mighty instruments. Our choleric, self-centered personalities mold us as individuals that believe we are the only ones that exist, that no one else does. However, there is much more out there that we as human beings are underestimating.

For full effect, download “Insignificance” on the Binaural album by Pearl Jam and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. And yes, that’s just for you Keith.

Light travels at a rate of 186,000 miles per second. That’s a distance of 5.88 trillion miles per year. And you thought that the rate that your wife pulled out her checkbook was high-speed. As the great Douglas Adams once said, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”

The Earth is 8,000 miles in diameter, rather large for most people doing a comparable planet ratio study. I would throw in a “Yo Mamma” joke somewhere in here, but that would negate the grandeur of this paragraph itself. The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, is 11 times the size of Earth, with a diameter of 88,000 miles. These conglomerate creations fade into dots of nothing when you start thinking about the bigger picture.

The sun, our nearest star, is a class two G4 yellow dwarf star. A massive ball of hydrogen, five times larger than all of the other planets combined. However, dwarf is a satisfactory choice of words as it becomes just another speckle on the infinite canvas moving away at light speed.

Pearl S. Buck: “In this unbelievable universe in which we live there are not absolutes. Even parallel lines, reaching into infinity, meet somewhere yonder.”

Our nearest neighbor star, Alpha Centauri is 5.2 light years away. Almost 30 trillion miles away from whatever computer monitor that you’re staring at right now. With today's technology it would take over 100,000 years for us to reach our "closest" neighboring star. Makes you question the relevance and plausibility that Gene Roddenberry had in his screwed-up noggin when he birthed the concept of “Star Trek”.

The Milky Way is a spiral class galaxy, with our sun being just one of 100 billion stars in this massive assembly. At the very center of the Milky Way exists a black hole 100,000 light years across.

Bernard Bailey: “When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.”

Everything that we are able to see exists only as a mere one percent of the known universe. In essence, there is a colossal amount of understanding out there than we actually know of. It is also very pitiable that we as human beings get caught in the fictitious perception that it is only us that exist. That couldn't be further from the truth. The world that I live in, that you live in, that we all live in, is essentially nothing compared to whatever else is out there. You, me, and every other one of the six billion people planted on this planet, are nothing, zip, zilch, tiny blotches on the infinite line in both directions. We are irrelevant crumbs on the platter of the universe.

Carl Sagan: “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

Still feeling like you're the man?

What do you think?


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