A cosmic perspective
Published 6:15 am Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I was mowing the grass the other day and, not particularly enjoying it, mused over what a dull thing to be doing. I was not taking things into perspective.
While I thought I was puttering along on my mower at a blazing two or three miles per hour, I was in fact mowing grass on a surface of the Earth that was spinning at a rotation speed of 1037 miles per hour. While spinning at this breakneck speed, the Earth and I were whizzing around the sun at a speed of 1110 miles per hour. That’s like driving to Myrtle Beach in 23 minutes.
While zooming along at all these speeds is exciting to think about, they are nothing compared to the fact that our Sun is spiraling around the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy, with the Earth and myself in tow, at an incredible 500,000 miles per hour. That’s going from here to Alaska and back in one second.
But wait! While I was mowing, spinning, rotating and spiraling at astonishing speeds, the entire Milky Way Galaxy, consisting of a few hundred billion stars (ours included), is streaking towards a group of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster at a speed of over one million miles per hour. I was forced to concede at this point that my mowing job was awesome!
Looking at the universe as a whole may make one feel rather small and insignificant, but that’s not true. For in all the vastness of the Cosmos there may be countless numbers of life forms, but none of them will be like us. We are a rare species. In a hundred billion galaxies, we are, by design, unique.
Steve Roark is a retired area forester from Tazewell, Tennessee.