Monday, March 14, 2011

A sense of scale

I've been feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the planet, and its not just the sight of O'Docker's yacht in the midst of the wide seas.

I've been walking the streets of London imagining raging waters the height of three story buildings blast everything in it's path, racing up the Thames swallowing bridges and house boats with ease.

Then there's the picture above. It's a famous one, called the pale blue dot. And that one pixel is us; it's Earth.

In fact we are not even a single pixel, maybe 0.12 of a pixel. At this scale even if the whole of Japan has been shifted 2.4 m (a mind blowing concept) it would be invisible.

But what is even more amazing is that we can engineer a craft to travel 6 billion km away, command it to turn round, take a picture, then radio it back to us - and then be alive and conscious, able to wonder at it.

We might be tiny compared to the world, but as they say: size isn't everything.


bonnie said...

Does make all us dwellers on the coast realize afresh that we're all vulnerable to such disasters, doesn't it?

It's not that I didn't know - just makes you think.

JP said...

Yup, very sobering. Been checking heights of London ground level above water's not very much!

Smilicus said...

I always rely on a old saying when I feel overwhelmed by how small we, as an individual are in the world:

Not your size thats important, its the size of you actions

Its cheesy, I know, but it works for me to keep me motivated.

bonnie said...

Oh, I must remember to look at this when I get home. I have a terrible terminal here at work - doesn't really matter 'cause most of my work is on spreadsheets, but it's not showing me any pale-blue dots in that picture.

ps - I'm so excited, I think my building super took delivery of my copy of Natural Navigator yesterday! Whoop!

JP said...

Looking forward to your review!