Launch Pad: Scale of the Universe
August 13, 2010
The very first lecture on the very first day of Launch Pad started with a discussion of the size of the universe, and yes, the Douglas Adams quote (“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is.”) may have come up once or twice.
We have invented new units of size and distance to deal with how big it is. AU’s. Parsecs. Light years. There comes a point where you sort of nod, understanding it on a purely intellectual level. But it remains abstract because we’re better at dealing with distances we can actually, you know, deal with. Miles are good because we can walk a discrete number of them in a day. Start getting much bigger than that and things simply fall into the category of big, bigger, really big, and COSMIC. Earth is really big.
Wait a minute — no it isn’t.
Prof. Mike Brotherton pointed us to this video, which I really like because it shows that a) we’re really small and b) it uses music from Disney’s The Black Hole. Remember that one? Scariest movie I’d ever seen, until The Empire Strikes Back came out. (Hey, I was 7, give me a break.)
Hey look, I got it! Also, it should be noted objects in the universe aren’t really floating, most of them are locked in some sort of gravitational arrangement and traveling at very high speed…