Jun. 29th, 2013 09:20 pm
graveexcitement: sans (Default)
[personal profile] graveexcitement
For anything you can imagine, there are things infinitely huger, and infinitely smaller as well. Whatever first comes to mind when you think of the word huge - a football field, an ocean, a star - there is always something yet bigger - and if you jump all the way to the size of the universe, well. The universe grows bigger each moment, and there may be things bigger yet.

As for small - when you think of small, what do you picture? A mouse? A pebble? There are things thousands, millions of times smaller. A cell, a DNA strand. And even when you go all the way down to the atom, we have discovered things smaller still. Even an electron is not the smallest thing we know. And even now we are in the midst of discovering things smaller still.

We might be predisposed to view ourselves as the exact middle: neither big nor small, but medium. But to ants, we are giants - and to bacterium, we are their entire worlds. Just as one human is infinitesimally smaller than the Earth, so a single electron is vastly smaller than a cell; and as a human being can scarcely imagine the scale of the universe, so an atom cannot compare even to a human being. It is only due to our viewpoint that we see the redwood trees as large, when they are overshadowed even by mere mountains, which themselves could not hope to fill the depths of our oceans.

Peer into a canyon, stare into a galaxy; examine a fingernail, squint at blood cells, underneath a microscope. And to a tree, we are not even the largest animals the world has to offer - yet most trees would be (are) swallowed up by our cities, with few exceptions.

We use needle and thread to sew cloth together; so do muscle cells bind us together, and the unseen forces of gravity bind Earth in orbit of the sun.

For every star in the sky you can name, there are stars thousands of times greater in size, and greater yet are the scope of galaxies, so huge we have trouble truly understanding and imagining them. What does it mean to you when I say our own galaxy is 9.5 x 10^17 kilometers (or 100,000 light years) in diameter? Nothing. We can hardly conceptualize how huge our own star is; how are we to grasp the scale of a universe?

How does a grain of sand compare to the greatness of the savanna? It does not. But that grain of sand is vaster still than any one of the components that make it up. We can at least see a grain of sand without needing to improve our vision in any way; the same cannot be said for an atom, or even a cell.

All this is repetitions of this one truth. Numbers grow infinitely larger, both positive and negative, and infinitely smaller as well; infinitely approaching ∞, -∞ or 0 respectively. We know this to be true in math, but it holds true outside it as well, or close enough to true. The universe is infinitely huger, and infinitely smaller, than we can accurately imagine.

And if you protest, that we can imagine it - well. The oceans alone are vast and deep. Glaciers and icebergs look big on the surface, but are many times larger than they first appear. The sun can hold a million Earths within it - and you say you can grasp the vastness of the universe? Imagine the universe. Go ahead. Imagine it as great and deep and wide as you can conceive it. It is huger still than that.

And as for the other end of the spectrum? We think of cells as the smallest component of the body. Yet within cells lie organelles, and in one of these organelles are tiny strands of DNA - and DNA is made up of smaller parts still. Can you imagine the size of an atom? You can not.

What is applied to space, can be applied to time as well. Every length of time can be halved, and halved again. We have microseconds, nanoseconds - and the history of our universe is measured in billions of years. A song only lasts a few minutes, but that does not lessen the impact it has on your ears. Indeed, few would wish to listen to a song that lasts for a year. Our lifetimes last for many of these years, but many of us do not even reach a hundred, A month can seem a while, but it passes so fast. So does a season; so does a year. Perhaps Rent said it best:

Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
five-hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear,
five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure, measure a year?

Some call our current time the Information Age. There is a wealth of information, data, to be found on the web. It would be difficult to construct a search term so specific that nothing on the subject can be found online. Billions of words, images, videos, and code. Messages, stories, data values. The sum of human knowledge, and yet it is more than simply a widely-accessible database; it is a vehicle for communication the likes of which this world has never before seen.

And yet, in this vast gulf of information, a paltry few hundred thousand words can make a great impact; a pearl, found in the sea. Or perhaps the words that most resonate will be fewer still:

a great abyss
the ground where
      once were
now disappears


graveexcitement: sans (Default)

August 2017

131415 16 171819

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 26th, 2017 04:28 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios