Imagine for a moment the universe in its entirety. Though it is impossible to truly understand how vast its scope is, the feeling it elicits as we stare into the obsidian formless blanket of light and think about how big it is, is it truly impossible to look into it and feel anything but insignificant? The nihilistic feeling that mankind does not matter because it is so small and insignificant seems a limited understanding of worth, regardless of personal beliefs dealing only with the objective observations accepted about our world and the universe.
The Earth currently has 6.5 billion people – more than ever before. Every human being that lives now could fit, if standing front to back and side by side in a circle with a fifteen mile radius. The 29% of earth’s surface that is not covered in water amounts to approximately 149 million square kilometers. Total, the planet has 361 million square kilometers of land mass, and much of the water on Earth becomes three dimensional inhabitable space with the assistance of submersible marine based vehicles. The nearest object that can be seen from Earth is The Moon, which is over 200,000 miles away. After that, the nearest planet is Venus, which is 25.5 million miles away. The sun, which makes life possible on Earth, is over 93 million miles away on average. By the time its light reaches Earth to warm our faces in the morning, it is already eight minutes old.
If Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, was hollow, you could fit 1,400 Earths within it. If the sun was hollow, you could fit 926 Jupiters within it. Pollux from the Gemini system could contain within it almost nine suns. Eta Carina, could hold 400 suns within it, casting off an amount of mass equal to almost three Earths every single day. These stars are just those we can observe from our tiny corner in a galaxy, The Milky Way, which extends over 180,000 light years from end to end and stretches to 30,000 light years in thickness in some areas. The Milky way is, however, relatively small in comparison to one of several massive galaxies within the cluster Abell 2029 which is over 6 million light years from end to end. And there are billions of galaxies, maybe more.
Yet in all this space and mass, there has been no conclusive evidence that has shown us we are not utterly alone. So when we look up to the stars and consider ourselves insignificant given the vastness of the universe, we must understand that the universe itself is helpless to understand its own vastness or how small we are. Given the amount of thought we give the subject, the poetic truth is we are truly significant. In all of this, alone in the universe or not, we are able to feel, understand the universe, and reach out and try to explore the stars first hand with our infinitesimally small eyes. Is there a beauty in this? Is there meaning? We are able to have a limited understanding of a universe that is far beyond the comprehension of anything else we can know. And there is no end to our capacity for learning more. We do not lose information and learning. We only get better at it. And in our short life span on this planet, we have come a long way toward understanding things that may have never been understood before. Mankind learns, and it gets more knowledgeable every day. Look at the stars, we are not insignificant. We always learn and feel. And for the blink of an eye mankind exists, the universe will have done more with a few specks of its matter to understand itself than all the mass of Eta Carina.