The universe can be a difficult place to understand, It is immensely complex and immensely huge. The universe is so gargantuan that it defies any sort of conventional description, the numbers involved quickly escape the grasp of the average human mind. Most of you have probably seen some video or interactive web page that attempt to give you a sense of the scale of things, I feel that they always seem to fall short of impressing the true nature of the scale of space.
For instance, I’d like you to image the biggest thing you have ever been able to stand next to and touch, really take a moment and think of something…done? okay. What did you think of, a horse? an elephant? a Tractor-trailer? Maybe you went really big like a house, or a redwood tree? These are certainly gigantic things but they pale in comparison to some of our man made objects, like the Great pyramids, or even larger ; the Empire State Building. No, lets go even bigger, heck just pick any modern skyscraper and you are likely to elude the ability for a person to come to grips with the sizes involved.
How about something that puts anything we have made to shame, Mount Everest, This is the largest mountain in the largest mountain range on the entire planet, people die trying to climb it… its that huge. Everest truly earns the nickname ‘The rooftop of the world’, or does it? would it surprise you to know that the amount of variation on the surface of the Earth, from the lowest point to the tip of Everest, is less that the amount of variation in the glass surface of a marble. That is to say, if you were to enlarge a marble to the scale of the earth the mountains and trenches that you would see would outpace anything on Earth. Everything you have ever known, seen, rode on, walked over, or driven through, amounts to less than a thin film on the surface of a celestial marble. And that’s just on this planet!
As you expand your view out the the rest of the solar system you realize the even the vast Earth is nothing compared to our own neighbors, If we are a marble, that Saturn and Jupiter are exercise balls, so huge that we could easily orbit Jupiter as a moon at it would hardly notice. And that nothing compared to ours sun, which at this point is like a wrecking ball the size of a Hummer. So to recap we are a microbe, forming scum on the surface of marble orbiting a wrecking ball. Oh, don’t forget that we are so from this wrecking ball that it is easily blotted out by one of our microscopic thumbs.
It takes light…the fastest substance in the universe eight whole minutes to travel from there to here. I mean any distance you can achieve on the planet Earth can be traveled nearly instantly at the speed of light. It so fast that the world brightest mind never had the slightest inkling that light even had a speed until the math said it must and we contrived an experiment to prove it. So when light take any amount of time beyond a second, we are already far outside the realm of being able to really understand it. That’s 186,282 miles by the way, the Circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles that’s almost seven and a half times the distance. We’re talkin’ fast. The largest stadium in the world is in North Korea and it holds 150,000 people, now imagine that it is full and every person there is a mile tall(that’s twice the size of the worlds tallest building), and if you can manage that then you may be able to imagine the distance we’re talking about. But, like I said, this is just a light second!
Basically the idea here is, every time you think you have a good Idea of how small we are, just remind yourself that you aren’t even that big. All of the truly big things in the universe are so big that you don’t even notice you in them, like our galaxy. It used to be that the word galaxy was synonymous with the word Universe, this is because we literally thought that this was all there was, and not because we could see beyond our galaxy. We didn’t know there were other galaxies out there because they are so unbelievably far away the the billions of stars that compose these behemoths appear to be a single point of light without the aid of the most powerful telescopes ever invented.
I mean even when you know the numbers and can recite the facts, you still don’t get just how huge the universe is, because as large as the galaxy is there are billions and billions of these things floating in the howlingly vast emptiness of space. Which is something that truly escapes our understanding as human beings, that fact that as huge as everything seems to be, it is almost completely empty, 99.99999% of the universe is just empty space. We are so accustom to having the world pressing against us, the air filling our lungs, the dirt touch our feet, we chew food and drink water, touch our loved ones. Our whole existence is spent in constant contact with the planet we live on. Even when we fly we are just sitting on a cushion bolted to a metal tube the in rest on a cushion of air, we literally never leave the surface of the Earth, and even the handful of humans who have traveled to the moon have not left the earths influence.
So next time you are trying to deal with an impossible problem that seem insurmountable, just remember that you are just a microbe in a colony of scum on the surface of a marble hurtling through the raging emptiness of space around blazing inferno that is nothing but a drop in the inexhaustibly reaching sea that is the universe, and take a beat and get over it.
And that’s my take on the scale of the universe.