Sitting here, writing this, I don’t feel particularly insignificant. And yet in the scheme of things I am. Entirely, as, and I’m sorry to have be the one to point this out, are you.
‘Yeah,’ you might say, getting a tad shirty, ‘but actually we’re not insignificant at all. Where’s your proof of this outrageous statement?’
If it’s proof you want then here, courtesy of NASA and the Hubble space telescope, it is. But firstly I need to set the scene (cue drum roll):
Imagine you’re standing outside in the middle of nowhere. It’s pitch dark and you can see all of the visible sky – remember you can only see a little bit of the sky as you’re on a spherical planet looking in only one direction. It’s captivating. It’s amazing. All those dots of light are stars and they’re so far, far away.
It’s the night of a full moon. The moon is BIG compared to the rest of the white dots and the planets, but still the moon is small in relation to the sky you can see.
Now, look at the picture above. Look at the small square that says ‘XDF’.
Then check this out!
This is the proof of our true insignificance. This is an amalgamation of ten years worth of photographs taken by the Hubble of an area equivalent to the small square that’s labeled XDF (extreme deep field). Yet still, still it contains around 5,500 galaxies.
“The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the XDF reveals galaxies that span back 13.2 billion years in time. Most of the galaxies in the XDF are seen when they were young, small, and growing, often violently as they collided and merged together. The early universe was a time of dramatic birth for galaxies containing brilliant blue stars extraordinarily brighter than our sun. The light from those past events is just arriving at Earth now, and so the XDF is a “time tunnel into the distant past.” The youngest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the universe’s birth in the big bang.” – NASA.
There has to be a point to it all. Surely? But trying to grasp the idea of such vast amounts of time and space is hard enough, without trying to fry your brain and analyse our place in it.
Thus our insignificance. 😉
Find out more at the NASA XDF site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/xdf.html