The Bottled ‘Ocean’

WaterI began to write this post to tell you about a theory I had thought of a few years back, that bottled water might be having an effect on our global climate. The basic Idea was that if you think about how much water is bottled for individual sale it must add up to an incredible amount. And while that amount of water does eventually find its way back out to the water cycle, we are constantly bottling more to sell, and so there is a whole chunk of water that is perpetually out of the water cycle and in its own bottling cycle. I was convinced that, while not the primary cause, this ‘bottled ocean’ as I came to think of it must be having some effect on the environment.

But then I did some research, I wanted to have some comparisons for you so that you could the potential problems this absence of water might be having. Here are some of the results.

There is approximately 1.5×1018 short tons of water on the planet earth, which is a lot, it covers about ⅔ of the earth’s surface, so yeah pretty huge. As a comparison the entire human race weighs about 9.3×1011 lb, which is roughly 1/9 the weight of the “hydrosphere” as some are apt to call it. So how does this measure up to the world bottled water? Well I gathered some rough statistics  of the estimated amount of water sold each year, and assuming that the bottling companies are gathering water at least as fast as they are selling the water, than that is roughly the amount that stays bottled on an annual basis. So I took that amount multiplied in the number of bottles per case, and the amount of water per bottle and got and pretty rough estimate for the worlds “bottlesphere”. Ready? …4.68×107 metric tons…

Now at a glance this seems to be a pretty large amount of water, but let’s gain some perspective shall we? Well the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake is 78,200,000,000,000 m3 and the worlds ‘bottlesphere’, when converted to similar units is … not so big. Okay so maybe not, the Biggest lake it the world, but surely bigger than some lakes. One of the worlds smaller lakes, number thirty-five by volume is Lake Nicaragua which is 108,000,000,000 m3, still about two-thousand times bigger.

So maybe this massive amount of bottled water will fare better in the realm of ponds, surely it can hold its own there. Well to begin with the world’s largest pond is in main, and is aptly named Great Pond, which weighs in at around 240,651,000 m3 or five times the 46,800,000 m3 that the world’s supply of bottled water comes in at. Now I am sure that there are ponds a great deal smaller than the world’s largest and that the ’bottlesphere’ probably does outranks a good number of them, but find statistics on them is tedious and time consuming and most would not leave much of an impression. So in an attempt to create so amount of sensationalism around my now clearly not so significant gleaming. I when a peg lower and looked up the world largest swimming pool. Ready? The world record holding swimming pool is located at the San Alfonso del Mar is a private resort in Algarrobo, Chile, about 100 km west of the capital Santiago, ranks at 250,000 m3 which is 180 times smaller than the amount of Bottled Water in the world! Ta-dah! Hooray!….

Well I guess its not so impressive really, and I have to be honest, this was a pet theory of mine for many years and I was actually very shocked to find out he sadly underwhelming facts behind in. I almost didn’t write this post after finding out, and was so dejected over it that it has taken about three weeks for me to get around to it. But you know this is the power of science, while the theory was cool sounding, and many of my friend s agreed “there was something to it”, in the end it was just a clever story the only sounded right. I had no facts, just a sense that there must be a lot of water out there in the store across the globe. Now, I know, I know that while there certainly is a lot of water in bottles sitting outside the water cycle, that it not even enough to fill a decent sized pond. While it does dwarf our other uses for water, like swimming pools, that is about what I’d expect, since we actually needs to drink water to survive and don’t really need to swim in it.

Anyways the point I am trying to make here is that, before you go hanging you hopes or expectations on some pet theory of  your own creation, maybe you ought to do some research on the subject first, I was able to gather all of this information, including crunching the numbers and making the appropriate conversions over the course of just a few hours, and now not only do I know I was way off track, but I learned quite a bit about the worlds masses of water.

And that’s my take on the bottled “ocean”.

The Afterlife

The AfterlifeIf there is an afterlife, and that’s a big if, then it doesn’t look anything like what we expect it to.

The reality is that there is no way that the world simultaneously works the way we know it too and somehow also works the way many of the region say it does, there are just too many contradictions. I do think that it is fun and rewarding exercise to think about what it could be like and what that would mean. So of my favorite fiction does just that, in the movie What Dreams May Come Robin Williams character discovers that the afterlife in a kind of thought cloud where you soul go when it no longer has a body to anchor it to earth. You can say in your own private section of the cloud or you can share your space with others. Hell is simply your own subconscious desire to make amends for and evil filled life. If you were greedy and mistrustful and out for only yourself in life you will spend you afterlife punishing yourself out of guilt and self loathing. This is a very interesting version of the afterlife as it does a fair job of covering the salient details of most of the world’s religions, though I think that representatives from those religions might choose to refute that point.

Another great work of fiction dealing with the afterlife is a book called Sum, which is a book of short stories each outlining a different view of what the afterlife hold for us. Most of them are satirical, meant to point out some point or another about our daily lives and the many ways which we find to waste our lives, including the title story, Sum, tells the reader about the experiences of a newly dead person, and how he is shown the event of his life in real time but in a different order, the events have been reorganized by quality, so that he spends 30 years sleeping and 1 year blinking, and so on. The story is interesting and hilarious, and really makes you think about how much time is wasted in an average day, and how it adds up.

I imagine two such scenarios that, relying on science, would approach a real afterlife. The first and more hippy dippy version is on where your consciousness, being an emergent quality of the alignment of the molecular structure of your brain cells, is ‘reincarnated’, or an approximation of it is, in some other part of the universe. I envision a whole host of Earths out in the universe populated by different versions of ourselves living different lives and loving different people, make different choices. Or maybe Some sort of cosmic analog is generated in a nebula where our neurons are replaced by a more disparate medium and the reality we experience is in turn generated by thought. After all it is a big place and even if quantum entanglement doesn’t make any such claims as this, it certainly allows for the possibility.

The second and slightly more plausible but also slightly less pleasant sounding is predicted on the fact that the our perception of time is subjective, and can be altered by our various filters. The best example of this is dreaming, sometimes it feels like weeks have past in a single night. So what if and the end, when you are dying, you consciousness beings to skew, and right at the edge of death your perception of time is so warped, a moment is extended into infinity and you spend the rest of ‘eternity’ in that moment. The quality of that moment is determined on the person you are and the way in which you died. If you die comfortably and at the end of a well lived life, you experience a kind of heaven. If you die some agonizing torturous death and you mind is riddled with regret and self hatred, then you get and eternity that reflect that.

Neither of these is exactly what you hope for but there is very little hope that we, the unlucky masses forced to spend the entirety of our lives on this side of death without ever really knowing what is on the other side, will ever know what the truth is. But like so many philosophical problems is is at least interesting, if not fun, to speculate and theorize on the possibilities.

Oh and one last example of a theory of the afterlife that I’d like to share, is a short story written by Andy Weir called The Egg, I mentioned it in another post but I thought it worth another plug. Also check out the video adaptation.

And that’s my take on the afterlife.

Time Travel

TimeTravelI recently finished a fetter from myself in 2013, to myself in 2014, I hope to make it sort of a tradition, to write a little snapshot of my tastes and interest every year. Not so much as a way of making me accountable to myself, but simply as a way to see the changes that happen to my personally over the years. What really inspired this idea, was a combination of this, firstly was this writing project that I have undertaken, and how it does seem be like a rolling image of my personality, and secondly was a post I just finished that talks about the emergent, and therefore, ephemeral quality of memory and personality. I am of the opinion that the self is more or less a narrative the brain tells it self as a way of maintaining a sort of quality assurance.

Basically I will notice is something is wrong with me if there is an internal expression of what is ‘right’ otherwise I would have no idea if I was still in working order from moment to moment. Anyways, as I was thinking about all of this I realized that this whole practice of writing to one self is a very practical way of a kind of time travel. For a long time now we have known of the transportive quality of reading, and if you are writing about yourself in a specific time period, then you can be transported to that time with the greatest of ease, though the fidelity is limited to our writing skill, and our ability to imagine what we are reading. Maybe this is not the grand scientific breakthrough that so many dream of but it is still a time travel of a kind.

So sending information into the future is a simple, if tedious, matter of waiting, but obviously that most excite forms of time travel are the ones not possible for us. There is the slightly  more reasonable form, Traveling forward in time, this can theoretically be achieved by two means the first and easier of the two in traveling near the speed of light. This creates a time dilation effect that makes time pass slower for you the the people living on earth, in effect sending you into Earth’s future. The other means is slightly more difficult because it involves resolving the significant limitations of our human anatomy, Cryogenetic preservation. Basically you freeze yourself and wait out the intervening years and get revived my future medicine. the real trouble with this medicine is trying to preserve the cellular and molecular structure of your body so that there is something to revive.

This seems like a cool proposition, but I think that the net result would be that you make yourself either just behind enough to be irrelevant to the current culture (you thought it was hard getting a job now, image if you were five or ten year behind current standards), or so old that you become a guinea pig to every historian interested in our era. Not very good outcomes in my opinion.
The other forms of time travel are progressively more difficult and problematic in terms of destroying the continuity of time. The first of these is sending information backwards in time. This I think is probably an easier task to accomplish the actual traveling back in time. But still a difficult job to pull off probably requiring a whole hell of alot more that 1.21 GW, but still sending information anywhere is always more economic than sending matter on the scale of a human being. The real problem though is how do you convince anyone, and preferably yourself that the information is from the future and that you should take it seriously and not dismiss it as a joke.

This and the last forms of time travel, actually going backward in time physically, share a huge and glaring problem. If you somehow went back in time There is only one of two end result, and actually both results can be further broken down but we will get to that. For now, the two main results, one you go back in time and through your interactions you alter the event of the time line, maybe not history per say  but certainly the actual event in the past, and thereby changing the ultimate future including you deciding to go back in time. Maybe this happens by you causing your grandfather’s death, meaning you were never born, hence the term Grandfather Paradox, or maybe you simply set off a chain of events leading to you being raised in a different home and changing the person you become, and so you never actually decide to go. Either way that scenario causes a big time paradox, and essentially breaks the laws of causality.

The second result of backward time travel is that nothing you do can possibly change the timeline, because you already went back in time and did whatever it was you were going to do and so history has corrected for your travel. this is a decidedly more optimistic few of the the outcome, but nonetheless a possibility. As for the break down the first result can be interpreted to mean two very different conclusions. the first is quite simply the end of existence. You have caused a paradox and the universe does not allow for such nonsense and promptly explode out of reality. A similar argument is used to say that the universe would simply never allow for the traveling back in time in the first place. The second conclusion of the Grandfather Paradox, is that the Universe has got a solution, and that is a parallel timeline, Back to the Future style, which states the the moment you make a change that disrupts the chain of causality the timeline branches off, leaving you in this new chain of events which is creating a new future. Hence the ‘rad’ track that Marty get at the end of BTTF.
As for the second set of conclusions, these are the one where Causality doesn’t care what you do because you’ve already done it, it basically works depends on your motivations for traveling back in time. If you were simply doing it for profit then you probably will be fine, as long as your plan doesn’t involve opening a bank account in your name, since you won’t be able to get back, you are too far back for the FTL (faster than light) travel , or the cryo freeze. The better plan is to bone up on some brilliantly profitable idea and invent it before the original, and live like a crazy genius. My favorite part of this outcome is that if there is any overlap between old you and young you , people will probably tell you you look like yourself. So awesome.

And that’s my take on time travel.

Consciousness

ConsciousnessI started this writing project as a person challenge to improve my writing skills. I figured that if I had to write at these a page a day for a year I would have to show some improvement and I feel like I have done, at least a bit. But I had not anticipated was the improvement to my typing skills, which was simply an oversight on my part, it’s actually a pretty clear effect of writing all the time. Something I probably would not have see at all was that it would lead to an improved level of creativity. I am reminded of my post about being an artist, when I wrote about the imagination as a tumbling cage of ideas, and the more ideas you absorb the more interesting connection that can be made and the more original work can be produced.What occurs to me now is that the tumbler does just get filled with external ideas, its is also filled with the ideas that you yourself think of. In a strange way, because of the internal monologue that we all have we are all kind of witnessing our own lives.

Its instances like think that, I think, give us a window into the true nature of consciousness. If you take a look at swarm behaviors in the wild and at the patterns of emergent intelligence, what you see is that a system of thousands of individually simple instructions can lead to a complex intelligence that is capable of architecture, organization, and strategy. For example, in an ant colony, the average view of the hierarchy is that, there is indeed a hierarchy at all, that the queen rules over the drones instructing them to build here and scout there and to defend the colony and queen at all costs. But this view is false, the fact of the matter is that there is no leader, and the only difference between the queen and the drones is that she is capable of reproduction, if she a has any analogous rule to the human body, it is not to the brain, but to the ovaries.

All of the seemingly intelligent actions that are taken by a colony of ant comes out of a complex interplay of these extremely simple individuals. When I say simple, what i mean is that real ants are nothing like A Bugs Life or Antz, they do not have individual thoughts and that do not yearn for a more fulfilling life that walk around and respond to stimuli, the primary stimuli being pheromones. One trait that has been sighted in the past is the fact that any sometimes bury their dead, some species even have a kind of catacomb structure under ground, but what has come to be understood in the field is that the only way that the ant know that the ant they are burying is dead is the smell of him. Ants produce a pheromone upon death and that pheromone marks him, if you take the pheromone from a really dead ant and cover a live one with it that other ants, other ants being any ant that happens by and smells, with begin to carry the poor marked ant off to be buried struggling all the while. The ants only hope is that the pheromone be rubbed off in all the commotion, than the other will forget what they were doing and go about business as usual.

But to say that they will forget anything in a misnomer, because the ants would have to have something in mind to begin with in order to forget, in reality, they are simply responding the the pheromone signal. Over millions of years since the first ant came to be they have evolved, by trial and error, a complex system of pheromones and responses, it is entirely likely that the first ants did not live in colonies at all but that the were simple eating machines, each capable, or at least some significant fraction capable, of reproduction. and that the accidentally converted what might have started as most mammalian uses for pheromones; singling mating interest and signaling territory. The point here is that the intelligent does not live any where in the colony, it emerges from the interaction between the ants, like the hidden image in a magic eye emerging from the noise.

So, I seem to have gone on a pretty wild tangent, what do ant colonies have to do with human intelligence. Well, there is grow evidence to support the idea that human intelligence function in quite the same way, that each of our brain cells is equipped with the same very simple instructions, much simpler in fact then the individual ant; receive a signal, send a signal. The lien of thought is this, the sense of being, your thoughts and feelings and insights and your personality, even your memories are simply an emergent quality of the structure of your brain. To put it another way, “you” don’t live anywhere inside your brain, “you” emerge from the way your brain is wired, change the wiring, change the person. And in fact your “wiring” is always changing, you are always making and losing connection in you brain. Recently an experiment was does with the goal of making an audio representation of the human brain. the recording represented each firing of a synapse with a tick, the experimenters wanted to see if a pattern would emerge, which we could point at and say “Consciousness!”. When the recording was played back all that was heard was white noise, perfectly random and uniform. There is no constant state of “you”, “you” are the current structure of your brain cells, firing in response to receiving signal. In fact if your brain ever did produce a recognizable pattern, you would be having a seizure.

As I think of this analogy of the tumble receiving input from the outside and inside, I think that what I picture is that the tumbler is the emergent quality. That when we say that we “got an idea, out of thin air” it might be closer to the truth that we no. Our brains, or the firing of our brains cells, literally give us the idea. It would certainly explain the feeling that we all have the we are somehow not apart of our bodies, that we more than the just a collection of memory centers and sensory cortices. Our mind are literally more than the some of its parts, the “you”, the “I”… is just outside the structure of your brain, like an interference pattern, it’s made of a multitude of other simple signals, and can’t exist without them. It is somehow there and not there at the same time, like Schrodinger’s Cat… Anyways, here or not its pretty cool that we can think and feel and imagine, and create.

And that’s my take on consciousness.

Abortion

AbortionI have had a lot of differing opinions on the subject of abortion. When I was younger I was pro-choice, since I was raised in a christian home. I figured that if the bible thought that masturbation was wrong than it probably didn’t think too highly of abortion. As I began to develop a sense of logic and started to evaluate these issues for myself I decided to learn a little bit more about what the debate was over.

Most most people the polarizing issue is over where to draw the line, between life and death. For some the baby in not  baby until it born, where for others the child is entitled to it’s life at conception. There are legitimate arguments on both side of this spectrum, and in fact there and good arguments at many points between the two extremes. Some say the its when the heart begins to beat, or when the fetus is recognizable, or when the nervous system is developed. The current legal line is the point at which the fetus is viable, that is to say when the fetus is developed enough to be birthed or surgically removed.

So the argument becomes a matter of timing. At which point does the fetus stop being a part of its mother’s body and become it’s own individual, and by extension when can the state step in a protect the infants rights? It’s not an easy question to answer and it’s important to the freedom of this nation that the debate continue to be heatedly fought over, because it’s within that debate that you find your own personal morality and for the argument to end would mean a consensus be made. The only problem with finding an agreement is that on such a huge scale it is never a perfect one, there will always be a minority that feels oppressed by the decision that was made.

When I reached college I started to form my own opinions on this issue and came to the following conclusion. While it may be wrong for an individual to terminate a pregnancy, killing their unborn child, it was not the place of the government to dictate this moral choice to the public. And from a christian perspective, would it not defeat the purpose of living a righteous life if you were forced to do so under penalty of the state. Talk to anyone of faith in general terms and they will tell you that the driving force for living a holy life is not just a fear of damnation but a love for God and the scripture.

Another argument of the pro-life faction of this debate is that in killing all of these unborn children, you could be killing the next Einstein, or the next Pope, that it interferes with God’s master plans. But I have a real problem with this line of logic and a number of levels, first of all that it is contradictory to their own dogma. Essentially what they are saying is that God is almighty and has design a plan for all of humanity down to the individual level, after all that is the basis for faith, that trust that God has set you on a path and that he will protect you. But if this is true would his plan not account for abortion, would he have seen it coming and made provisions? Anyways this is not my biggest issue with the argument.

My biggest disagreement with the argument is with the fact that the premise is just wrong. Imagine for a moment that you a young women, you get pregnant, but you are too young, you are too poor and you are not ready for the responsibility of raising a child. You know have a choice to make, and you can choose one of three options. You can have the child, abort the pregnancy or give the child up for adoption.

The first option available to you is to give the baby up for adoption, this is the solution that the Pro-choice representatives would convince you is the solution to the problem. The only catch is that the world is made up of human beings who are flawed and emotional and irrational and generally imperfect. So that many who choose adoption change there mind and can’t bear the guilt of ‘abandoning’ their child. And those who do follow through, their lives are still turned upside down, and some never recover from the event. And even if the pregnancy does you undue harm and the parent is eventually able to go on to live a normal life, there is a woeful lack of families willing to adopt those ‘abandoned’ children.

You can also have the baby anyways and do your best to do right by the child. A noble sentiment to be sure, but how responsible a choice is it to make? Just because you and a true intention does not mean you have the ability, skill, resources, or support that is require to raise a person that can be a productive citizen. Many of the children that are born into a situation where abortion was considered don’t end up going on to become nobel laureates. Most of them struggle through school, due to an unstable home life and many are lucky to even make enough to start a family of there own, and more still never reach that place and still start those families anyway, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and in most cases uneducation.

Abortion is the only option which provides a solution to an unprepared youth a second chance, to make better decision for their life. It also prevents the cycle of struggle from continuing. But most of all it is simply an option. An option that is medically possible and therefore ought to be available for anyone who deems it the right choice. To make any one of these option mandatory would be wrong and I don’t think anyone could debate that fact. Mandatory adoption, mandatory abortion, mandatory pregnancy? Anyone with any amount sense could tell that any of these option would be monstrous, which is why it is equally monstrous to outlaw any one of them.

And that’s my take on abortion.

Developing Contrast

ScalesI promised you that I would go over the specifics of developing visual interest in a two dimensional piece of artwork, So here we go.

There are three types of marks you can make on a two dimensional surface: points, lines and planes. There are several ways that you can make variations in these marks. For points you can vary the weight, making the point lighter or darker on the page. With line you can achieve a much greater amount of variety. You can change the weight ,as with the points, but you can also change the linetype, making the line organic, using lots of curving forms, or keep the line geometric in nature using sharp angles. You can also vary the regularity of the line, on one end regular lines, which tend to have a repeating pattern, or alternately a pattern that changes in a predictable way.  At the other end of the spectrum are irregular lines which look more like a scribble. and you can vary your lines on both of these dimensions at the same time giving you and of the variety that your pencil has.

The last mark that can be made in two dimensions in the plane, and there are three ways to describe a plane: the type, the regularity and size. The primary difference between a plane and a line is obviously that the plane is enclosed whereas the line is open, and so the same rules that govern line variety apply to plane variety.

So now up until now we have been talking about works that are primarily monochromic and line based. When you expand your view out to other types of visual elements you discover two other means of generating contrast: Texture and color. Texture is kind of hard to describe despite being a very simple concept. When you break it down it’s clear that texture is simply a building up of points, lines, or shapes until they are no longer distinguishable from each other and they for a new shape that posses the texture of the underlying points, lines, or shapes.

Color requires a lot less explanation, except to say that there is as much variety in this one aspect of design as there is in all the marks described above. There are so many different qualities that color can communicate that it deserves it own post to better elaborate. But to summarize the basics… Color can be adjusted on three basic scales: Hue (Red, blue, Green, etc.), Saturation (how intense or muted the color is) , and Tone (lighter or darker). Using color you can make a large shape feel small and small shape seem loud, you can direct or misdirect the viewer’s attention using only color if you so choose.

In a similar way you can manipulate the viewers attention with texture, making an uninteresting shape feel busy, and controlling the texture can give your piece a rhythm of busy a calm areas. And as you might imagine, since texture is merely a building up of points, lines, and planes, the same thing is true of these other marks.Now the point of describing these rules these rules is not to limit the way in which you create your art, but the exact opposite. We describe the many way you can control you marks and shapes so that you can better understand the ways that you can develop contrast in artwork.

The point of developing contrast is, in part, to give the piece a solid base of interest. Another reason this contrast is an advantage is that you can use the contrast to inform the viewer. Inform them of some message you are trying to communicate, yes, but also to inform them of where you want them you look. You can use the shapes themselves to lead the viewers gaze and by doing so tell them what is most important. This tool is especially necessary when you are dealing with representational artwork, like a Landscape, it may not be immediately obvious to someone not familiar with you work, what the subject matter is, and using the physical layout and qualities of your forms is a great way to tell them where they should look.

Like I said in the first post on two dimensional design, these rules are not set in stone, and if you find that following them stifles you ability to create, than by all means ignore them. But I would encourage you to take these rules and use them, especially as you are finishing a piece. Consider the way you have used line weight  color, texture, shape. Is there enough variety? Is there any significant variety? Is every portion of the piece accounted for? Is every portion of the piece uniformly detailed? The answers to these questions can be yes or no as you please. But it is important that you are conscience of the decisions you are making as a creator. There should be no part of you artwork that is incidental. That is to say each element should have been considered. If someone asks you why you chose to make a mark some where or why a shape is a particular color, you should know and if you don’t know, you should think about it next time.

And that’s my take on developing contrast.

The Scale of the Universe

ScaleoftheUniverseThe 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.