We Are So Tiny…
Here we are. Tiny little humans, so full of life and energy and potential. We exist on a minuscule ball of rock orbiting a tiny little star in a great big galaxy. We think we are mighty and powerful and the lords of all we survey.
One religion tells us that we have been given dominion over all the Earth.
Big fucking deal.
See that little bitty ball? Third one from the left. That’s earth. To quote 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…
It’s not very impressive is it.
It gets worse. Our sun isn’t all that. It’s monstrous compared to us. But, compared to other stars in our galaxy, it’s nothing.
That tiny little yellow dot labeled “Sol”. That’s our sun. Millions of stars the size of our sun could fit into Antares. Just as millions of planet Earths could fit into our sun and hundreds of billions of us humans could fill the Earth (volume wise).
We do happen to live in a pretty large galaxy. Estimates range from 200 billion to 400 billion stars. Some of the small cool stars are difficult to detect and some are hidden by the massive amount of dust and gas in the galaxy.
At this scale, the solar system isn’t even a pixel. That 10,000 ly scale bar is light years. Travelling at 300,000 kilometers per second, it would take 10,000 years to travel the length of the bar. So, at light speed, about 25,000 years to reach the center of the galaxy.
It gets even worse.
This is the observable universe. The Virgo Supercluster in the center contains the local group. The local group consists of 54 galaxies. The Virgo Supercluster consists of another 100 galaxy groups and is 110 million lightyears in diameter.
At the scale of this picture, it is not large enough to be visible.
It’s an extraordinary thought when you really sit down and try to grasp just how insignificant we are compared to the universe.