Friday, August 8, 2008


Mental_Floss linked to a fabulous piece today by Michael Swaim on Cracked about 5 scientific theories that will blow your mind.

"Right now, on your computer screen, are approximately 10,000 galaxies.
Each of those galaxies contains anywhere from ten million to one trillion stars.
The average star is roughly a million times the size of Earth.
And yet, with all that junk, the Universe is more than 90 percent empty space.
All of that, in this tiny photo. A photo that took 400 orbits and 800 exposures to take.
And the kicker? The photo covers one thirteen-millionth of the entire night sky."

Because what we study is what's called the "observable universe", because we can only study what we can see and detect, "the size of the “actual” universe is so large that if the universe we just described (the impossibly, mind-bogglingly large one) were the size of a quarter, the actual universe would be the size of the Earth."

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Not the size of the universe, necessarily, but how insignificant we are in it. Think about it. The earth has been around for what, 6 billion years, I think it is? That's 6,000,000,000 years. And how long does the average person live? ~80 years? If they're lucky. That's .000001333...% of the earth's total age. 80 years is not all that long. Am I really going to spend my 80 years worrying about owning the latest technology, or buying the best clothes, or making sure that no one thinks poorly of me? Am I going to spend it being angry at my government for acting like a bunch of moronic little boys in the playground?

My life is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and my insignificant little life is so short in the grand scheme of things, perhaps rather than dwelling on those things over which I have no control, I can appreciate what I do have. My memory won't go on forever. In one hundred years from now, who will ever have heard of me? The least I can do is not fuck everything up for those who will come after me.

I don't necessarily believe in a purpose for life. While it's nice to think that since we're made of stardust, the universe created us as a way of learning about itself, but I kind of wonder if that's just wishful thinking.

"At some point half of you was an egg in your Mother’s womb. That egg existed in her body from the day she was born. And a long, long time ago, she too was an egg in her Mother’s womb, who had that egg ready for use from the moment she squirmed out of your Great Grandma’s nethers. The point being, technically speaking, there’s no break in the chain of existence, no time when you are not a life form of at least the most rudimentary sort. Your family, at least on your Mother’s side, could theoretically be considered an immortal, constantly-regenerating organism. Of course that would make men, whose sperm has to be created years after the moment of birth, just disposable donors here to fuel the everlasting fire of womanhood. "