1. Pale blue dot
Let’s start with the classics and what (who) inspired me to write this article. This is Carl Sagan and his “Pale Blue Dot”. Personally, when I have a hard time, I remember his words or listen to this video. This is a kind of call that the world is very big, infinitely big, infinitely interesting, its scale is small, and we are a spark created by our problems at a specific point in space and a specific continuum of time, which instead of enjoying, often burdens itself too much.
So, as Carl would say, everyone you know, and everything you’ve ever seen, existed and exists on this faint blue dot. If you still don’t understand what I’m talking about, let me remind you that in 1990, the unmanned spacecraft Voyager 1 took a picture of our planet from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. The image was called the “Pale Blue Letter” and already in 1994 the scientist Carl Sagan wrote a small but ingenious text about it.
And here’s his excerpt: “Look at this spot again. It’s our only home. Here we are. Everyone you love, everyone you know or have known, everyone you’ve heard of, everyone who’s ever lived, everyone has lived here. All our joy and suffering, a thousand religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and gatherer, every hero and villain, every man who built civilization and man who destroyed it, every king and peasant, every couple in love, mother, father, child, inventor and explorer, The moralist, the immoral, the corrupt politician, the superstar, the leader, the saint and the sinner, everyone and everything that history remembers has lived on this dim sunlit spot.”
Yes, the earth is a point in the vastness of the universe. And we, the worms “reigning” on this small point, who often even dare to refer to the earth as the whole universe.
2. The vast world
To better understand what Carl Sagan is saying, we need to understand the scale of the universe. Rather, let’s try to understand. Each point in this photo is an independent galaxy. A galaxy, as you probably know, is a massive system of gravitationally bound matter that contains many stars and planets. For information, there is a so-called Dwarf galaxies, which contain up to 10 million stars, and giant galaxies, which contain 100 trillion stars. As for the number of galaxies, you would understand from this photo that they are very many. However, of course, I could not fit them completely in the photo. Scientists believe that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, and by some calculations there are even trillions.
3. 200 sextillion stars
In the photo you can see a comparison of our star and its planets. The diameter of the sun is 109 times larger than the diameter of the earth. In the solar system itself, 99 percent of the total mass comes from the sun. Isn’t it a little? Yes, the Sun is a real giant compared to our planet, but we saw above that there are more such stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth. Yes, we are talking about as many stars as if we count them in our whole life, we don’t have time for that. First, there are billions of stars in each galaxy, and now let’s remember that there are billions of galaxies themselves. However, there was a time when people thought that the world was geocentric, that everything in the world revolved around the earth. . .
Although we now know that the world does not revolve around the earth, sometimes everything starts to revolve around our problems. . .
4. There are more planets in our galaxy alone than there are people on Earth
In terms of planets, the matter is even more interesting. There are about 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and we know that on average, more than one star is home to a planet. Therefore, it is estimated that there are 10 trillion planets in the Milky Way alone. This is much more than the number of people on earth. A legitimate question arises, are we alone in the universe?
To answer this, the scientists performed a computer simulation. They focused on 2 factors — 1. How many solid planets could be compatible for life and how much could the creatures living there become an advanced civilization. 2. At what stage of the evolution of the parent star is this expected? The results are promising, there should be 42,000 advanced civilizations in our galaxy alone. Multiply that by the number of galaxies in the universe and you get trillions. Therefore, to the question of whether we are alone in the universe, I would say that the chances of being alone are one in a trillion. And if this is so, then there are many civilizations in the world at this moment. Imagine for a second how diverse they can be, what they can think about, what they can worry about, who knows how many little things they are worried about right now. We don’t even know anything about their existence. Instead, we know what someone thinks about us, and that worries us the most.
5. Black holes are the most massive objects in the universe
Everyone knows about gravity. We are attracted to the earth, that is why we walk so freely on it and do not walk in the air like astronauts. Earth is too massive for humans, but everything is relative. The gravitational ruler of the earth is the sun. The question arises, what happens in the case of the sun? Is it fully independent? The answer to this is unequivocal, no! The sun also rotates, and it does so around the center of the galaxy. And here in the center of the galaxy is a supermassive black hole — meet Sagittarius A*. This space object is 4.3 million times the mass of the Sun. However, that’s not all, there are other supermassive black holes in the universe, whose “weight” do you know how much? Yes, no more and no less, 20 billion solar masses!
Can you imagine such an object? And now remind yourself that you are worried about the extra two kilograms.
6. Scales — from infinity to infinity. How long is the universe?
As for scale, our ancestors once thought the Earth was infinitely large, but now you can fly around the planet in 51 hours. However, now the scale has been increased, the diameter of the Earth is only 12,000 kilometers. As for the distance from the Earth to the nearest celestial body, it is 384,400 kilometers. Yes, we are talking about the satellite of our planet – the moon.
However, this is not a significant distance either. Moreover, nothing at all. The distance to the sun is already millions of kilometers, specifically 152 million. When we mistake the solar system, counting kilometers here loses its meaning. There is another measurement for this and that is light years. To understand the light year correctly, we need to know that light, or photon, travels 300,000 kilometers per second. It would take this fastest moving particle in the universe 100,000 years to cover our galaxy alone. This is only in the scale of our galaxy. The universe is so big that there are parts of it that a photon coming towards us will never reach.
Yes, when we talk about the scale of the universe, it is literally impossible for the human mind to comprehend its size. Therefore, in the future, when you feel like walking a few meters, remember where we live and what are the dimensions of our world.
7. What is the universe made of?
Speaking of scale, have you ever wondered what the universe is made of? At first glance, this is a naive question, what should it be made of – atoms, many of you will think, but don’t be too hasty! When it comes to what the universe is made of, scientists face awkward questions. Yes, today we don’t know what 95 percent of the universe is made of. The mentioned atoms that make up us, our planet, the stars, and everything I talked about above are about 5 percent.
This means that 95 percent of the mass of the universe is simply not visible to us. That’s why scientists called this hypothetical mass dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27 percent of the universe, and this invisible substance is responsible for the formation of galaxies and the largest structures in the universe. It attracts particles of ordinary matter to each other. Whereas dark energy is the opposite of dark matter and drives the universe to expand.
Yes, in fact, the expansion and contraction of the universe on the largest scales are affected by forces that we cannot see at all. It can make us nervous, feel weak, but usually people are more worried about other everyday problems, like what someone will think of us.
8. Time infinity
Time is the phenomenon that was probably best explained by Albert Einstein in the theory of relativity. However, do we really understand its scale? There was a time when the average life expectancy of a person was less than 40 years. Today, a modern person lives an average of 73 years. At first glance, this is a lot, a person achieves many things during his life. . . But let’s not rush!
According to the Bible, the world is 6000 years old. In such a world one can complain, yes, but out of 6,000 I got a total of 72 years? However, today we know that our species has existed for about 300,000 years. So how old is our planet itself? Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and the universe is 13.8 billion years old. On such scales, our time accounting itself loses its meaning. To go to the point of complete absurdity, it should be noted that even the sun is a child compared to the age of the universe, it is only 4.6 billion years old. To prove the absurdity, let’s remember that we count the years according to the rotation of the earth around the sun. It turns out that the universe existed for 9 billion years before the earth and the sun (our clock) appeared. I am talking about Homo sapiens and its problems. Before us, the universe was already 13.5 billion years old. And here we are in the last 300,000 years with our endless problems and dramas.
Imagine for a second a world without humans and problems in general. However, do not fantasize too much, it is almost impossible for the universe to exist for 13 billion years without conscious beings. So the “problem” phenomenon itself probably existed for billions of years before our birth, and who knows what it was like.
In the end, maybe all of this can’t underestimate our pains (sometimes they are really more precious than the world), but there are moments when we don’t see a way out of a simple problem, as if everything is over, at such times, the scale of the world seems to narrow terribly and the solution is nowhere to be seen. Remembering the real scale of the world can help us escape from narrowness, it helps me sometimes, I hope it helps you too, reader.