LOOK AT THAT GALAXY! Now think about our “special” place in the universe.
Andromeda Galaxy (M31): Is 2.5 million light years away, 220k light years across, and contains over 1 TRILLION stars. It’s our nearest neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy.
If you were to travel to Andromeda at the speed of light it would take you 2.5 MILLION years to get there. If you were already there and traveled from edge to edge at the speed of light, it would take you 220k years to cross it’s vast island of stars. Each one of the 1 TRILLION stars within the Andromeda galaxy have planets. This is just ONE GALAXY in the universe. One!
Now…The universe has HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF GALAXIES! Probably TRILLIONS of galaxies, only our technology is unable to “see” or detect them. Our technology can only see so far out into the universe. There’s a limit to how far we can see based on our current level of technological advancement.
When you view Andromeda, you are literally looking back in time!
You are seeing Andromeda as it WAS 2.5 million years ago!
Light travels at 671 MILLION MPH! It takes the light emitted from Andromeda 2.5 million years to reach our planet for you to see it. Which means we won’t see the light currently being emitted from Andromeda right now for another 2.5 million years.
My point to all this is simple. The universe is much much bigger than most people can comprehend. These distances and timescales are vastly larger and longer than we think. Our planet, our star, our Milky Way galaxy is not as big or special as we think. Andromeda is twice our size.
To put this into a more appropriate perspective.
Think about galaxy IC 1101. It has no official name other than it’s alphanumerical designation.
“IC 1101 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy at the center of the Abell 2029 galaxy cluster and is one of the largest known galaxies. Its halo extends about 600 kiloparsecs (2 million light-years) from its core, and it has a total of about 100 trillion stars.” – Wikipedia
1 has 100 TRILLION stars and is 2 million light years across!
[EDIT: Correction…it is 4 MILLION light years across.]
The IC 1101 galaxy would completely fill the entire gap between our home galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy and overlap 750 million light years beyond both Andromeda and the Milky Way on both sides.
100 TRILLION stars. In just 1 galaxy.
Trillions of galaxies in the universe. (if it’s infinite; which is likely)
How many planets are there? Each star in each galaxy has planets. The number of planets is uncountable.
We worry about bills, and money and religion and jobs and politicians and get offended when people call us names or say something we don’t like.
Yet we live in THIS UNIVERSE!
We are proof that life exists, and it’s highly unlikely that we are alone in the universe. It’s unlikely we are alone in our galaxy.
The Milky Way galaxy has a few hundred billion stars. Each with planets.
Earth is the only known planet with life. Yet when we look out to all the stars in our sky, all those galaxies throughout the universe, we like to believe we’re special.
We are. To ourselves. Relative to us, we are special only to ourselves. We’re special to each other, our families, our loved ones. We’re special from our own perspective relative to ourselves.
As far as the universe is concerned, we’re not special at all. The universe is indifferent to us. There is no intrinsic purpose for the universe. It simply exists. It is. And that’s all.
But, as Carl Sagan said, “We are a way for the universe to know itself.” We’re not separate from the universe. We’re part of it.
We’re not special to the universe, but our being and our awareness of our place in the universe is special to us.
I believe humanity is special relative to us and only us. The universe is a vast cosmic ocean filled with galactic islands. Each galaxy with hundreds of millions of stars and trillions of planets. And only one is known to harbor life.
We’d be foolish to believe we’re the only planet with life. We’d be arrogant to think this universe is “created” for our benefit.
If we don’t explore the universe we fail as a species. We fail our humanity. If we don’t get over ourselves we fail. If we don’t mature we fail. If we don’t cooperate we fail. If we don’t love ourselves and do everything we can to advance our species as a species, we fail.
The universe may not care about us, but if we care for ourselves we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to humanity to unite and explore the universe. We must survive and to survive requires unification and cooperation of enough people to make our place in the universe permanent. Or as permanent as it can be.
We owe it to ourselves to advance. It’s our duty to help one another. To work together. To build a better world for all of humanity. It’s our duty to evolve. Our purpose is to live and grow, and we do that by loving our fellow human beings. Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, and many other philosophers have said love conquers all, love is the way, love is our salvation, love is what binds us.
Love is a force of gravity which holds everything together. We must love one another. We don’t have to “like” everyone, but we must love all of humanity.
We must have faith in humanity. Faith in our species. Faith in each other. Faith and love will allow us to explore the universe. Technology will allow us to evolve into a new existence, a new being. A new humanity.
Forget theistic religion, politics, money. These things don’t matter. They never have mattered to the universe. They don’t matter to our galaxy. They don’t matter to the stars. They don’t matter to the planets. Those things are irrelevant. The universe is indifferent to these things. Why should we care about them? They are divisive. They are holding us back.
What do you want to do? Live as a slave to a single world, or explore new worlds by building a new one here first? Then Mars. The Moon. Another star system? Another galaxy?
Immortality is possible through technology. We have the ability to evolve ourselves into beings that can live forever. Technological immortality is not only possible, it will happen. But only if we get past the barriers of politics, theism, and money.
We are humanity and we have a purpose. Our purpose is humanity! Our purpose is evolution! Our purpose is education! We are our own purpose. Our purpose is to explore the universe. To learn. To grow. To advance. To live. To love. To evolve. We must evolve.