How important are we? (hint: Astronomy)
I’ve always been fascinated by distances. And even as someone who isn’t particularly fond of planes or travel, I’ve always wondered what else was out there.
But, before we get started, let’s take a moment to enjoy the serenity offered by the photo below (which a friend of mine from way back in College graciously granted permission to share).
It’s brilliant, isn’t it.
It captures 2 of the things I dearly love despite having little clue about.
- Iceland: A country I’ve always wanted to visit, even as a kid. And I sure hope to, one day.
- Astronomy: The idea of planets, galaxies, and beyond has always fascinated me even if the only aspect of them I actually “understand” is the sheer enormity of distances. 3 million miles away, 10 light years away, and along those “distant” lines…
While, as a society, we find ourselves caught up in the daily routine of life — Wake up, Live, Sleep, Repeat — we often forget to realize both how important we are, and how insignificant we are, at the same time. And in that moment of “not realizing” it is when I stumbled upon this photo that for more than 1 reason resonated rather deeply with me. It provided some perspective, more of that much needed perspective.
While I don’t know how many stars there are in the photo, and if they span beyond the Milky Way et al, what I do know is that the world we have all not seen, and sadly will never, ever see, is astronomically huge. Not too long ago, Hari had shared another image about a star that was, I believe, 3 million miles away (or something along those lines). And now for some perspective (if you enjoy distances like I do, you might enjoy this parallel).
What’s 3 million miles?
- India is about 10K miles away from the US.
- Every roundtrip is about 20K miles.
- 10 roundtrips would be 200K miles, 150 roundtrips would be 3M miles.
- It takes about a day to get to India, and another day to get back. And even if merely for the sake of humoring this line of thought, we took a roundtrip as lasting about 3 days (with a tiny bit of buffer between landing and takeoff), it would take about 450 days to complete the trip to this mystery star.
- That’s about a year and 3 months, and if you love trading, it is 5 AAPL Earnings Releases.
- If a 5-hour plane ride to Iceland could likely feel like lightyears away to some of us who don’t travel much (read: ever), and comfortably provide a lot of cultural and culinary differences, what might 7500 hours of continuous travel bring?
Let me take a wild guess. Serenity? A much needed and deserved break from competition? Plenty of avenues to explore? I am sure it is all of it and a whole lot more.
And before we forget, let’s remember that we just completed 1 trip, to 1 star. Not to mention, it is a 1-way trip as well. To make it a roundtrip, it would mean 3 new iPhone releases, at the very minimum, and you would be welcomed back to Earth by your family with an iPhone 18 or maybe, even iPhone 19.
What if we wished to make a second trip to this star?
What if we wished to make a trip to another star? Perhaps one that is further away.
What if we wished to travel to all stars in a galaxy?
What if we wished to travel to all stars in all galaxies?
What if we wished to revisit them?
Let’s say we are immortal and also happen to be blessed and lucky enough to complete all these trips. How would our perspective have changed at that point? Would we feel particularly proud about our specific race, religion, caste, creed, sex, height, weight, wealth, education, intelligence, and more? Or, would the realization have dawned upon us that we are perhaps not that important, and definitely no more important than anyone else out there. And certainly not superior, or inferior, to anyone.
I’ve a feeling, a very good one at that, that we would have changed for the better. We would acknowledge the fact that we are both irreplaceably important, and absolutely unnecessary, both at the same time. And I think the enormity and grandeur of these stars would have taught us to treat everyone with utmost respect, and also be absolutely grateful for the hand we were dealt, despite everything “we lack” and wish we had.
Now, back to Earth. Back to reality. Back to praying for peace, both in the world, and within ourselves.
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