Feeling Small in the Universe?

21 Jun , 2013 by Video

Well, you shouldn’t be. Yes, you’re just one person out of over 7 billion on Earth. Yes, your lifetime — even if you live to be well over 100 — is just a fraction of a flicker of a blink of a tardigrade’s eye (do tardigrades blink?) compared to the 4.6 billion years of the age of the planet. And yes, Earth is only about a third the age of the Universe… which is filled with billions of other galaxies each with stars and planets of their own. Space is just so awfully darn…big.

But, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us in the video above, so are you. So is everyone, in fact. And why? Because we are all a part of it. We’re a part of the Universe… each one of us an inexorably inseparable part of the big picture, a connection between past, present, and future in the most elemental sense possible. As Tyson famously stated once before, “we are in the Universe, the Universe is in us.” And it’s true.

So if you have an admittedly large and heavy ego, put it down for a moment and check out the video. You may come to realize it was weighing you down a bit.

“Those who see the cosmic perspective as a depressing outlook, they really need to reassess how they think about the world.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Video: Big Think

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Darrin Menzo
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Darrin Menzo
June 21, 2013 5:39 PM

How this Monty Python song is not mentioned in this article, I haven’t a clue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyzNgmaibMc

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
June 21, 2013 6:24 PM

Ahem. “Big Think” is a Templeton Foundation vehicle to insert religion into science, which the otherwise meaningless keyword “Purpose” indicates.

But I assume Tyson refutes their overt interest. (He is not a favorite of mine, so I have two reasons not to listen.)

a fraction of a flicker of a blink of a tardigrade’s eye (do tardigrades blink?)

As Tardigrade is an early occuring Ecdysozoa (animals that shed their exoskeleton) along with Nematoda, I didn’t think they had eyes at all.

But what do you know, it seems some have! “Many species possess a pair of rhabdomeric pigment-cup eyes,” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade ] I assume it is an ancestral trait after all.

Tony King
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Tony King
June 21, 2013 9:19 PM
I’ve read your posts on UT more than once and one thing that strikes me directly is the gargantuous disgust you seem to have for religion. It’s also quite evident that you are a scientifically enabled individual (although i could be wrong) but i can’t stop wondering why you hate religion so much? Surely not all religions are anti-science the way science is anti-religion nowadays? Apart from that, religion(s) are the only phenomena in the world that have a pretty sound theory on how everything came to be which hasn’t been disproved by science. And yes even though the word PURPOSE is a part of that theory, science is not able to disprove it no matter how loud… Read more »
WaxyMary
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WaxyMary
June 21, 2013 11:32 PM
Tony, The general state of your thoughts (read showing your ignorance here, but I say this in a non judgemental sorta way) behoves me to share with you a few thoughts. You seems to misunderstand what the word theory means in science and take it to mean what the detective shows indicate, i.e., an assumption they are trying to either prove or eliminate. In science this is called an hypothesis, just like you might have learned re: the scientific method in elementary or middle school. Going from there to your other egregious point, that religion(s) are able to prove anything. Surely not all religions are anti-science the way science is anti-religion nowadays? Apart from that, religion(s) are the… Read more »
Tony King
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Tony King
June 22, 2013 9:06 AM
Mary, Thank you for your lengthy explanation and your (not so) kind words as to my scientific vocabulary. Even though your response is a textbook example of responses given by any militant atheist, i never claimed i was an authority on anything scientific nor religious so the cutting of some slack regarding terminology would be appreciated. What have religions proven? Apart from that not having one creates societies of self destructive, mind numb, consumer addicted, individualistic zombies, religions have the most logical explanation as to how everything came into existence (i.e.: Intelligent Design). With that said, religion has proven about as much as science has when it comes to the origin of everything. In your order of things… Read more »
Fons Jena
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Fons Jena
June 22, 2013 11:23 AM
“… religions have the most logical explanation as to how everything came into existence (i.e.: Intelligent Design).” Religious theories do not explain reality, they simply deny it. You can claim that a guy in space created everything but I can claim that a flying spaghetti monster did it. You have no proof that this flying monster does not exist. What can we do to convince you that this is all made up? Will the discovery of alien intelligent life convince you? You will then probably claim that the ‘Creator’ created different species but that humans was his best try. I also wonder who created the Creator. For all clarity I do not believe in such monsters, I believe… Read more »
Tony King
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Tony King
June 22, 2013 2:45 PM
Love your reply and i mean it! My issue is not what the creator looks like, but whether he/she/it is the cause of the universe a.k.a. creation. For all i know it could indeed be a flying spaghetti monster even though the scriptures would not agree with this With observations outside of the physical i meant looking beyond the point of creation (i.e. before the occurence of the big bang when all physical laws came into existence). As to the question of who created God, that is indeed a difficult one. According to the Torah, the Bible and also the Koran; God is eternal. This implies that it never was created but that it just was and BELIEVE… Read more »
Fons Jena
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Fons Jena
June 22, 2013 4:17 PM
I appreciate the fact that you love my reply . I also appreciate that you remain civilized (I hope I was too). The reason because there isn’t much proof for the existence of the flying spaghetti monster is because he has the power to let all proof of him vanish without a trace. Yes, he is truly a remarkable creator. In my serious opinion I don’t care what caused the existence of the universe. I even would say that it is irrelevant. But what I am sure about is that it is probably a consequence of a physical phenomena rather then of a magical one. The creator story generates more questions then it solves in my opinion (how,… Read more »
Olaf
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Olaf
June 22, 2013 12:05 PM
“What have religions proven? Apart from that not having one creates societies of self destructive, mind numb, consumer addicted, individualistic zombies, religions have the most logical explanation as to how everything came into existence (i.e.: Intelligent Design).” Maybe you should read the papers more. Religious people are killing other religious people daily. They even blow up their own religious places. Religious people hating people that are different to them. A logical reasoning means nothing unless it is checked with reality. Reality disagrees with your logic. Also the creator of this universe is Amelia Pond. Every single being and molecule in his universe has been created through the imagination of Amelia Pond. As described in the blue book that… Read more »
Tony King
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Tony King
June 22, 2013 1:49 PM

Hey Olaf!

You are absolutely right when pointing out that people are hurting other people because of religion. But can the teachings of a certain religion be judged by the acts of it’s followers or are the followers supposed to be judged by the religion?

Planemo
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Planemo
June 24, 2013 3:08 AM

Which was 1st. The chicken or the egg? How did all earths H2O get here? Curious minds need to know. Enlighten us please wink.

Planemo
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Planemo
June 25, 2013 4:12 AM

Hey Tony! How are you? I am well wink

Religion is spiritual. Not material. Even with saying that. It is incredibly hard to join the two together, never mind talk about it. Respect is so very crucial. The human race cannot perceive a thing, …yet. Our technology is useless in this point in time. Having an open-mind is key also for both sides. It is asking questions and trying any experiments no matter how freaky it may be for either side of this.

Never ever stop seeking the *-possibilities*- !t may be in plain sight.either way.
.

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
June 25, 2013 3:12 PM
Planemo, The problem with your apologistic post – it does not address those who with greatest respect, from their own point of view, act on the religionist side of these conflicts which even Tony agrees are as a result of religion. All you are doing is allowing and facilitating the continued hurt, killing, terror of all religions. Additionally, you state that “Politics comes in a close 2nd”. You are aware that civilization is driven by man in reaction to environment and that religionist such as yourself are a part of that environment. “Trouble follows blind faith like tails follow monkeys…” – uncredited quote. Following: a quote from Frank Herbert: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/43262-when-religion-and-politics-travel-in-the-same-cart-the an extract from Robert A Heinlein’s first unpublished… Read more »
Planemo
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Planemo
June 25, 2013 5:35 PM

How you woman type really really long posts/letters is beyond me. Actually I do know. Thanks God<==(there He is again).I am a man. After three sentences, I get so aggravated typing! And I know why also. Men and woman are miles apart in mind and body. You know, what I mean, the Mars Venus facts. wink Just refer to my last post to you, ok.
Oh ya, …I would combined all religions best points and facts. Then condense it. I believe you will get the best accurate picture. And NO!! I won't elaborate any more. Why? I cannot type any more. I vaporize! wink

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
June 24, 2013 4:46 AM
Tony, Your take-away was that I had unkind words for you? Wow, you do know that ignorance is curable with education, correct? It is not like I said you were stupid, or that you were thickheaded. Those indeed are unkind words. I chose the correct words and used them correctly. You, taking offense at that turn of phrase and the image created in your head of what ignorance means to you have, again, shown me you have a false to facts pathway well established or what some would call a knee-jerk syndrome. My response was actually brief, the added text, the order of things, was the lengthening item. You did figure out I was not the author of… Read more »
Planemo
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Planemo
June 25, 2013 4:30 PM

Unkind? Speak for yourself! Playing God Mary? Don’t! Your doing a horrible job! It was joke. He didn’t respond to me because ‘he’ probably knew what I was saying. No one knows for sure! I like to advocate for or against. Its the possibilities I am referring too!
Please get your nose out of places and ask ME before playing God Mary. No smiley face? Hope you know what that means!

Planemo
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Planemo
June 25, 2013 5:11 PM

At least you have a perspective like I do but is different ways. There are “OTHER POSSIBILITIES”. Good for you.wink

Planemo
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Planemo
June 23, 2013 4:40 PM

[email protected]! Not one is a favorite of yours Larsson. Only the me, myself & i within your mind is your favorite. You have two reasons ‘not’ to listen? Neil stuffed your ego like stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey. Forget what science he was explaining. That one word ‘ego’ is all YOU Larsson!. Go shed your exoskeleton ego for starters. It is ok to have your own point of views. I/we grant.that to any human being. But your ego is so unmatch to the reality of reality. Your a one way thinker.

Prism2Spectrum
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Prism2Spectrum
June 23, 2013 2:37 PM
Cannot understand being “terrified” by the “cosmic perspective” (the view of science, and how it presents that perspective, may play in). Overwhelmed by its splendor; humbled by its magnitude; awed by its glory; wonder-struck before its radiant beauty, many of stirred heart, can attest. Depressed? Oversized ego gripping a small mind, probably. But it could be as much, a sense of meaninglessness mortality—in light of the endless vastness of the Cosmic-ocean of time overhead. A Universe strewn with colossal galaxy-filaments, swarming with remarkable star-embraced worlds. Many of them, habitable-zone planets, no doubt. Whether worlds inhabited,…? (Mr. Tyson’s description of star-world relationship reawakens the wonder of it!) The cold majesty seen above, observed from this Life-World below—hot with shuddering… Read more »
Fons Jena
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Fons Jena
June 23, 2013 8:20 PM
For those who feel depressed and are terrified by the large scale of the universe I would suggest the Forerunner Saga from the Halo novels (if you like to read science fiction novels at least!). It tells about a time long ago when Humanity and another civilization (the Forerunners) controlled large parts of the universe. The Forerunners were a great civilization that had the task to protect life througout the universe. They had reached the highest level of technological evolution which they used to build massive structure that could extend the lifespan of stars or create artificial planets where they protected all lifeforms they found. If you read such cool stuff then you don’t feel small or meaningless… Read more »
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