The Vastness of Time and Space

Some universal truth for you to ponder this morning.

Catch a glimpse of a relatively nearby star and you see it as it existed when, perhaps, Lincoln was president (if it’s 150 light-years away). Stars near the edge of our own galaxy are only seen as they appeared when the last ice age was in full bloom (30,000 light-years away). And those giant pinwheel assemblies of stars called galaxies are glimpsed, as they existed millions, hundreds of millions or even billions of years in the past. We never see the sky as it is, but only as it was.

I’m not sure whether or not there’s another single paragraph that so profoundly defines the vastness of the universe.

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  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Bob, I was trying to explain this to a creationist some years ago when he dismissively retorted that “someone could have made the light to appear one million years old.”

    That moment was when I started learning everything I could about rationalization, motivated reasoning, and cognitive dissonance. The weird part: both atheism and religion come from adaption to the same wonder-inducing universe.

  • dildenusa

    How does one explain to the 40% of Americans who believe the Earth and the stars are 6,000 years old that the Earth and stars are several billion years old and our bodies and the Earth are made from the dust of stars that lived and died in gigantic explosions? How does one explain that GOD isn’t a hairy old white guy or even a hairy old white gal that lives in the sky? One doesn’t even try. The only thing one can do is shake one’s head and cry for the children of those ignorant 40% as they mindlessly go through life believing that we can use up the Earth’s resources as fast as and as much as we want and never suffer any consequences.

    The battle today between theists and atheists shouldn’t be a battle of beliefs. It should be more of a discussion of the human condition and what each of us can do to improve our lives and the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors.

    The Jewish Sabbath is a good example of environmental consciousness. It didn’t come about in Ancient Israel so people could be lazy. It came about as a form of environmental stewardship. We need to give the Earth a rest once in a while so we use less of its resources and leave some for others and our children.

    • MrDHalen

      Sadly, I think we are witnessing the negative side effect of ever advancing technology. As we create more advanced systems that don’t require us to use critical thinking skills, apathy sets in and you start to see what is happing in America today. America is the perfect example, because we have enjoyed and maximized the use of many new technologies. A person’s survival requires less and less mental effort these days.

      I like to imagine there have been 10 to 15 million people on this earth over time who have invented the world that billions enjoy today. Louie CK has a great bit on lions taking out the people who have stopped using their brains. You can make up and live in any world you want when there are no consequences for not living in the real world.

    • http://twitter.com/bphoon Brian C

      It’s the celebration of ignorance that Republicans continue to promote that keeps that 40% pliable and under control. Believe me, it would be much more than 40% if they had their druthers.

      I believe that most people at the top of the GOP think they were put here by God to govern, that’s it’s their divine right. Therefore, the rest of us plebes should just stand down and do as we’re told and let these Titans make our decisions for us.

      Read The Family and C Street by Jeff Sharlet some time.

  • mrbrink

    Through the Wormhole w/Morgan Freeman pondered:

    “Did time exist– before space?” Blows my mind.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M“>Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan is humbling.

    • JackDaniel07

      Spot on Mr.B — There is a YouTube channel called “CallumCGLP” which features some SPECTACULAR Sagan vids.

      And this, well this is maybe the best video ever…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6w2M50_Xdk

  • Shawn Carey

    Just an attempt to match Sullivan’s paragraph with Douglas Adams’s…

    “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen…”

    • muselet

      The judges have awarded you full geek points. Congratulations.

      –alopecia

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380131435 Therese Hentz

    Re-runs?