How Small Is Our World? April 30, 2009

How Small Is Our World?

This is just awe-inspiring and it comes from the Friendly Atheist Forums.

Click on this link, really take some time and look at those images. Understand the scales of magnitude as best you can.

It’s amazing how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe.

Forumite Chal quoted the extremely relevant Carl Sagan:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Pale blue dot? That’s putting it generously.

I don’t know very much about astronomy. But seeing that sort of visual makes me want to soak up as much information about the subject as I can.

It really does make the idea of a personal God who watches over you seem so… small. There’s so much more going on out there that we don’t know about.

(via FA Forums — Thanks to what for starting the thread.)

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  • Winston

    Cool! I just forwarded that on to the secular group I’m in. That’s really neat.

  • Wow. I’ve seen Earth compared to the sun before, but never anything that far down the line. I am even more humbled and amazed to be star stuff.

  • bill

    i can’t wait for my astronomy lab next semester…

  • That picture is very cool. Thanks.

  • Scxin

    Awesome! I’ve forwarded the link to one of my friends – I’ve been trying to share with her just how incredibly inspiring and grand the universe we live in really is (she for some reason has difficulty grasping that there is anything but lots of vaacum and some pretty lights up there).

    If this doesn’t help I don’t really know what will. 🙂

  • Polly

    On a whim and my wife’s suggestion one boring weekend we decided to check out the Griffith Park planetarium. We hadn’t seen it since the renovation. They had a very large wall devoted to this tiny square inch of space that was photographed by Hubble. It was a really large wall with MILLIONS of objects on it. They called it “The Big Picture.”
    That was a tiny sliver of the night sky. Whole galaxies were just dots.

  • Very nice.

    Its inconceivable that some people actually believe that all of the cosmos was created just for our amusement…

  • Thank you for that. I have a number of people I will share it with.

  • I find it interesting in one of the last pictures it said that the biggest galaxy is 8 times the size of ours and according to current physics theories it’s too big to exist. I wonder what the current leading edge physics stuff is doing in response to the discovery of this…

  • Eliza

    This page addresses that comment – sounds like the surprising thing is finding such a large galaxy having formed so soon after (within “a few hundred million years” of) the Big Bang. Not that a galaxy that large couldn’t exist now. From that page:

    One of these galaxies, among the most distant ever seen, appears to be unusually massive and mature for its place in the young universe. This comes as a surprise to astronomers because the earliest galaxies in the universe are commonly thought to have been much smaller agglomerations of stars that gradually merged together to build large majestic galaxies like our Milky Way.

  • schism

    If I’m reading this wiki page correctly, Canis Majoris is bigger than Jupiter’s orbit.

    Mind goes *pop*.

  • Ha, wow, didn’t think my thread would make it to the front page of the blog. I feel like a slightly bigger dot in this universe now 😛

  • Richard Wade

    I love showing kids this stuff. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, and I even get paid. (By kids I mean 2 to 115.)

  • The Sagan quote is great.

    When discussing the personal-god-who-is-interested-in-whether-you-get-a-parking-space, I like to juxtapose the Feynman quote

    “The stage is too big for the play.”

  • Matto the Hun

    Hey, it’s not the size of your pale blue dot, it’s what you do with it. 😉

    That Feynman quote rocked.

  • Paulmond

    This reminds me of an interesting Bill Nye segment in which he has a scale model of our solar system laid out on a country road. Check it out:

  • Todd

    When looking at pictures like these, I am reminded of the Total Perspective Vortex in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

  • mike

    Hemant, if you are still living in Chicago, might I suggest a visit to the Adler Planetarium. It’s the oldest in the US (it’s newer theater has been updated, the older theater that McCain mocked is still circa 1960) and the view of Chicago is beautiful from there in the evening (especially for 4th of July fireworks).

  • stephen

    Hemant, you should totally enjoy reading Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”

  • Hemant, you should totally enjoy reading Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”

    Read it (actually, heard it on audiobook — does that count?). Loved it 🙂

  • Mountain Humanist

    I just posted this image on 11×17 on my office door. Beats hell out of “Footprints” or “Hang in There, Kitty!”

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