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Author Topic: Running Through Space  (Read 3081 times)

Offline Peter Perkins

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Running Through Space
« on: 18/02/2004 07:28:20 »
Running Through Space.

OrÖ.. The Universe in Perspective.

Got a minute? Good. Then you can understand the big picture, the Universe, once and for all, which is normally bloody difficult.  The clever men from Oxford have been trying for ever and they wind up confusing us as comprehensively as the clever men from Cambridge. But I have it, we are going to run through it!

Itís easy, we donít need any theories like Archie Medes making his bathroom floor wet or formulas from Einstein.

I will bring the Universe into easy comprehension for all, and it has never been done before.  You see, IT ALL DEPENDS ON HOW BIG YOU ARE. To us humans, being too small you see, between five and six feet tall, (This is not an exact science, it doesnít need to be.)  the Universe is a vast gobblydegook of light years, and parsecs and red shifts. Only God, (If he made it) knows what itís all about and how far it goes.  Imagine now how big it would all seem to you if you were a cat, say one foot tall. Five to six times larger than it seems now, five to six times more passing the understanding, however clever a cat you were.  Imagine now you are an ant, a microbe.  Itís too much, itís no go the anty-man, itís no go Blavatsky.

Right, on we go.  Microbes, ants, cats and people are all too small to understand the vastness of space so let us do a Ďthought experiment.í No test tubes, no sparks on shiny balls, no hair all over our face.  Einstein did them all the time and are we going to admit he would be any better at it than us. No.

How big is space?   Thatís our experiment.

Here we go. Put on your running shoes. The sun is one hundred million miles away from Earth. Near enough. If you want exact there are special books you can get, take a large bag to carry them.

WE BECOME HUGE GIANTS, now we can understand the vastness of space, at last.   So we imagine we are two hundred million miles tall, and every long step we take is one hundred million miles long. Itís a familiar distance, we donít do it every day but itís the distance to the Sun. What a stride!  What huge trousers.  Now to start running around the Universe.

We step out from Earth, bonk, one step and we are on the Sun. Bit hot, let us trot off to the furthermost planet in our Solar System, namely Pluto.  Forty steps, a half minute stroll, not so far as the paper shop, and we are standing, smiling broadly on the planet Pluto.            

Fine view from here, lots of stars, all over the place, they are our gang.  The Galaxy of which the Sun is a member.  We are called collectively The Milky Way.   There are none very close, bit off-putting, might be in for a bit of a long walk here.  We spot the closest to us, it has a name plate, Alpha Centauri, sounds posh, weíll nip over there for some cucumber sandwiches. Five thousand heavy paces and two hours later we are there. Half a minute to cross the Solar System and two hours to the next star, still we can do it on a Sunday morning and get back home for tea.

The following weekend we are going to walk right across our Galaxy, The Milky Way. We do not get back home for tea because it takes twenty three years. Good job I took a drink.

We are now a familiar giant figure in space. The denizens of distant worlds, if such there are, remark, there he goes again, that huge bloke, wonderwhere heís off to this time.

We are off to other Galaxies.  Space is full of them.  They are as far as we can see with telescopes or listen to with radios, if they have got Your Hundred Best Tunes going out.

Thereís a nice close Galaxy over there.  Itís just about the closest and is called Andromeda, Iíll walk over there, better not start off too quick, pace myself. Best foot forward.  It takes me twenty five thousand years to walk to Andromeda.

We will finish our peregrinations by walking to the furthest Galaxy yet discovered.  A complication is that Galaxies are walking away from us at a bit of a lick.  As if I hadnít got enough to do without playing catch-up. We shout at it, ĎHoy, hold on.í It stops and waits for us and we walk over.  It takes us twenty five million years to get there.

Remember how big we are?

Now do you understand the size of The Universe?

Regards Peter Perkins


 

Offline neilep

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Re: Running Through Space
« Reply #1 on: 19/02/2004 00:33:46 »
Phew !! Peter, dont' suppose my Travelcard will get me that far !!

'Men are the same as women...just inside out !'
 

Offline yor_on

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Running Through Space
« Reply #2 on: 18/09/2010 12:26:01 »
Now, that's what I call giving it a perspective..
 

Offline syhprum

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Running Through Space
« Reply #3 on: 18/09/2010 20:08:58 »
This thread must have set some kind of record for the length of time from its inception to the latest posts.
 

Offline yor_on

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Running Through Space
« Reply #4 on: 19/09/2010 07:40:05 »
Yeah and what happened with the ones Q. before? Some of the questions and answers here are really cool, like this one. We should have a prize for the coolest questions and answers :) like an TNS-'Emmy' or whatever its called. He* we might even beat the Nobel here :)

"Yes, as a very young man/woman I was a participant at .. .. Between grooming my cat and cultivating beer/wine I put a lot of effort in solving the problems of .. .. Thank you TNS for recognizing .. And another milestone in the research in the symmetries of asymmetric nylon pillars leading us to.." etc :)

Seriously, I really like this one. The starting post I mean :)
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Running Through Space
« Reply #5 on: 20/09/2010 09:21:24 »
A nicely written piece well worth reviving.  I am very keen on getting over to people learning about science the true scale of things.  remember too that at just under one second per pace we are striding away at about 500 times the speed of light because it takes light over eight minutes to travel the distance of one pace
 

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Running Through Space
« Reply #5 on: 20/09/2010 09:21:24 »

 

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