I find it hard to grasp how huge the universe is.

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I was just over at discover magazine looking at their top 24 deep space pictures of 2011 and one sentence caused me just to shake my head at how massive the universe really is.

It's a spiral galaxy, like ours. It has multiple arms, wound fairly tightly, like ours, several of which split and have disconnected spurs, like ours. It even has that rectangular feature in the middle called a bar, caused by the odd gravitational interactions of several billion stars as they orbit near the galactic center.

So this part of this galaxy is made up of billions of stars...It just floors me.

Don't take a look at the right hand side of this image then: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ea...

farley3k wrote:

I find it hard to grasp how huge the universe is.

It's easy: It's REALLY big.

I am going to hide under my covers now.

Scratched wrote:

Don't take a look at the right hand side of this image then: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ea...

That link took me back to downloading Jennifer Aniston on my motorola 28.8.

You're not alone. Our brains evolved to deal with human scale perception, sizes, speeds, etc. As a result the quantum and the astronomical tend to give even trained brains a lot of trouble.

Things like Cosmic voyage (powers of 10) might help a little but I wouldn't fret too much if you still feel astounded/baffled/whatever by the sheer scope of it all.

The real part that floors me is the vast gap of emptiness between bands of galaxies. IIRC its hundreds of lightyears of nothing.

Yes it's big ...

And now for something completely different ...

fangblackbone wrote:

The real part that floors me is the vast gap of emptiness between bands of galaxies. IIRC its hundreds of lightyears of nothing.

That's where the Reapers live...don't go waking them up now !

Duoae wrote:
farley3k wrote:

I find it hard to grasp how huge the universe is.

It's easy: It's REALLY big.

:D

\

Seriously. You might think it's a long way down the road to the Chemist, but that's peanuts compared to space.

When I want to feel insignificant, I look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_...

IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0d/Hubble_ultra_deep_field_high_rez_edit1.jpg/600px-Hubble_ultra_deep_field_high_rez_edit1.jpg)

Pretty much every spot of light in that image is a galaxy, an estimated 10,000 galaxies, each with tens to hundreds of billions of stars. That image covers a smaller portion of sky than a 1mm by 1mm square of paper at a distance of one meter: one thirteen-millionth of the sky.

fangblackbone wrote:

The real part that floors me is the vast gap of emptiness between bands of galaxies. IIRC its hundreds of millions of lightyears of nothing.

I think that's more accurate.

Great timing for this topic. I've been watching Cosmos on my PC as well as watching any Youtube video I can find with Neil de Grasse Tyson. I've always been interested in space exploration and the universe itself, and I'm currently addicted to finding as many of these talks as I can. A few days ago, I stayed up until 2 AM by watching two videos back to back that were each between 1.5 and 2 hours long.

fangblackbone wrote:

The real part that floors me is the vast gap of emptiness between bands of galaxies. IIRC its hundreds of lightyears of nothing.

This is what the astrophysicists call dark matter, because they have no idea what it really is. All they know that it makes up 96% of the known universe. In other words, the billions of galaxies that each contain billions of stars accounts for only 4%.

Well, sort of. The space between galaxies does not seem to contain dark matter (or we don't see evidence of it there); instead, the evidence points to galaxies containing dark matter in addition to regular matter. There's still a huge empty gap between galaxies.

I'm glad someone started a thread like this so I don't have to bug my Twitter followers every time I am floored by another picture from APOD.

Also remember that we just recently announced the discovery of a couple earth-sized planets that are also in their sun's habitable zone, have discovered 26,000 planets so far, and have known for a while that conditions for life might also be possible on the moons of large planets, like Jupiter, rather than just the planet itself.

All in all, I'm pretty much just operating under the assumption nowadays that "life" does indeed exist in many other places in the universe, and intelligent life wouldn't surprise me at all. It doesn't take Star Trek or Stargate or Star Wars anymore to get my imagination going. Just crunch the numbers.

Here are some fun related videos:

You're not the only one:

Well, maybe. Remember that we don't have a final Theory of Everything yet.... relativity and quantum mechanics contradict each other. They can't both be fully true, at least by our present understanding of how they work. Gravity is the big flashing red light...if I understand it correctly, we see that quantum mechanics and relativity are incompatible by the predictions they make about how gravity should work, and neither is correctly predicting the actual behavior we're seeing through our telescopes.

So it's too soon to say the Universe is 96% stuff we can't see. It's only 96% invisible if our theory of gravity is correct, but we know it can't be.

Hah, I KNEW that's what you were going to link. I loved Animaniacs. Some of it still holds up really well, but the stuff that was lame back then is impossibly lame now.

More generally, here's an animated introduction to the scale of the known universe, from the very smallest things we know about up to the very largest:

The Scale of the Universe.

Malor wrote:

More generally, here's an animated introduction to the scale of the known universe, from the very smallest things we know about up to the very largest:

The Scale of the Universe.

Very cool.

Isn't it interesting that we're right in the center? The tiniest things are at about 10^-24, and the entire Universe is 10^26, with 10^24 being the local galactic supercluster.

It may be completely meaningless, but I still find it fascinating.

MikeSands wrote:
fangblackbone wrote:

The real part that floors me is the vast gap of emptiness between bands of galaxies. IIRC its hundreds of millions of lightyears of nothing.

I think that's more accurate.

That's closer to the truth. And those regions that are devoid of galaxies are largely devoid of dark matter, too. There's a whole lot of empty volume out there.

farley3k wrote:

I was just over at discover magazine looking at their top 24 deep space pictures of 2011 and one sentence caused me just to shake my head at how massive the universe really is.

Quote:

It's a spiral galaxy, like ours. It has multiple arms, wound fairly tightly, like ours, several of which split and have disconnected spurs, like ours. It even has that rectangular feature in the middle called a bar, caused by the odd gravitational interactions of several billion stars as they orbit near the galactic center.

So this part of this galaxy is made up of billions of stars...It just floors me.

Here's a stat I like to tell my students: There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. At the same time there are about 100 billion galaxies in the Universe. Thus, there are 10 sextillion = 10 billion trillion = 10^22 stars in the Universe, give or take.

Now, even if only 1 in a trillion of those stars have an earth-like planet around it in the habitable zone, then there would still be 10 billion such planets in the Universe.

Mind blown yet, or should we go on?

Well, maybe. Remember that we don't have a final Theory of Everything yet.... relativity and quantum mechanics contradict each other. They can't both be fully true, at least by our present understanding of how they work. Gravity is the big flashing red light...if I understand it correctly, we see that quantum mechanics and relativity are incompatible by the predictions they make about how gravity should work, and neither is correctly predicting the actual behavior we're seeing through our telescopes.

My understanding is that they don't actually contradict each other; we've learned much since Einstein rejected Quantum Mechanics. They are not incompatible, we just don't have them hooked up together yet.

firesloth wrote:

Here's a stat I like to tell my students: There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. At the same time there are about 100 billion galaxies in the Universe. Thus, there are 10 sextillion = 10 billion trillion = 10^22 stars in the Universe, give or take.

Now, even if only 1 in a trillion of those stars have an earth-like planet around it in the habitable zone, then there would still be 10 billion such planets in the Universe.

Yeah, I like to make this observation whenever someone confidently informs that that it's highly unlikely that there's extra-terrestrial life.

Outside of the Aerospace Computer Lab at my school there was a poster that went through the various scale structures from the Solar System all the way up to the threads made up of superclusters of hundreds of galaxies...

The first time I stopped and read through that poster thoroughly I got dizzy.

I think this thread should be renamed "The Total Perspective Vortex".

This thread makes me sad because I know there's so much out there, and I'll never get to experience one billionth of one percent of the universe.

I want to explore, dammit! I want to know the universe!

It's all a simulation I tell you! We are in a really... crappy... MMORPG.

Malor wrote:

Isn't it interesting that we're right in the center? The tiniest things are at about 10^-24, and the entire Universe is 10^26, with 10^24 being the local galactic supercluster.

It may be completely meaningless, but I still find it fascinating.

I think we're only in the center because that's where we're observing from and we can't see any farther.

Renji wrote:
Malor wrote:

Isn't it interesting that we're right in the center? The tiniest things are at about 10^-24, and the entire Universe is 10^26, with 10^24 being the local galactic supercluster.

It may be completely meaningless, but I still find it fascinating.

I think we're only in the center because that's where we're observing from and we can't see any farther.

He means size-wise. The smallest things are Epsilon 24, the biggest things are 26 orders of magnitude above the meter scale, and we're at the meter scale, almost exactly between those two values.

LightBender wrote:

It's all a simulation I tell you! We are in a really... crappy... MMORPG.

For academic and mathematical confirmation of your hypothesis...

Nick Bostrom's Simulation Argument

Malor wrote:

Isn't it interesting that we're right in the center? The tiniest things are at about 10^-24, and the entire Universe is 10^26, with 10^24 being the local galactic supercluster.

It may be completely meaningless, but I still find it fascinating.

It's only logical that we'd be at the center of a map showing the part of the universe that we can observe. If you make a map called "Thing around me" you don't put yourself in the top left corner.
Edit - Tannhausered!

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