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Seeka
2008-Dec-07, 01:11 PM
Good Afternoon,
Im wondering if anybody else has gone through what i went through last night when after spending 3 hours wading through information on wikipedia i was in the countryside with my newly purhased telescope and armed with my very basic knowledge of the night sky i suddenly realised how small we are in comparison to the universe. Then while looking at the moon i felt a little fear because of how vunerable we are, how at the mercy we are of anything happening in our galaxy. The more i tried to come to terms with the reality of our planet, its location, whats out there that we don't know about my brain just wouldnt process my thoughts and i felt so overwhelmed.
Has anybody else, while starting out, ever felt afraid or just incredibly hard to take in the fascinating reality & wonder that is the universe?

Michael Noonan
2008-Dec-07, 02:15 PM
Well one of the comforting things is just how empty the universe is which means that we don't get hit all that often. As society advances the ability to map our local area improves and so we do get a fair amount of advance warning.

Yes the universe is big, really big and the description in Douglas Adams "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" pretty much sums it up. In addition some of the things that may hit the earth will pass by a few times which is why a certain lump of rock is being tracked for its near earth passes due in 2029 and again in 2036. If it looks serious then there is plenty of time to reduce the hazard or safely push it to a different orbit.

Also the atmosphere is a very effective safety blanket. The lump of rock that came down in the last two weeks over Canada was estimated to be about ten tonnes and the size of a desk. It broke up in the atmosphere. To date only one person is known to have been hit by an object from space which makes the odds very low indeed for any individual person. Live well, laugh and enjoy more about the really wonderful things that can be discovered, cheers.

hhEb09'1
2008-Dec-07, 02:31 PM
Live well, laugh and enjoy more about the really wonderful things that can be discovered, cheers.Yes! and read the BA's book, Death From The Skies. It'll reassure you, honest!

megrfl
2008-Dec-07, 05:10 PM
Has anybody else, while starting out, ever felt afraid or just incredibly hard to take in the fascinating reality & wonder that is the universe?

Obviously you are in awe of the universe. As am I. However, I don't fear it. I have a healthy respect for it, and hope to learn as much about it as I can. I think you probably feel the same way, why else would you be here on Baut and to have bought a telescope? Both are two extremely well placed steps in learning about our universe and planet.

Clear skies,
megr

KaiYeves
2008-Dec-07, 05:21 PM
Welcome to BAUT, Steffanie! I think that everybody has a feeling like that when they first take up astronomy. Heck, it's been a year (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/81638-one-year-reflections.html) and I'm still in awe.

timba1988
2008-Dec-07, 05:25 PM
If felt overwhelmed when I looked out of my window last night. It was clear and I could only see one star. I'm living in university accomodation at the moment, and the light pollution of Newcastle UK, is terrible. I can't wait until I get back home to the countryside, and see the stars and moon again.

But to answer your question, I'm more afraid of getting hit by a bus than space. Yes, there are threats in our solar system, but nothing in deep space worries me. Even if our nearest star blew up, it would take four and a half years for the effects to reach us. That is plenty of enough time to party.

dhd40
2008-Dec-07, 06:01 PM
Welcome to BAUT, Steffanie! I think that everybody has a feeling like that when they first take up astronomy. Heck, it's been a year (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/81638-one-year-reflections.html) and I'm still in awe.

Your one-year-reflections are simply impressive. I donīt think I could have written this at your age.
GREAT!

astromark
2008-Dec-07, 06:25 PM
steffanie ... Welcome.

Its OK to be concerned. But do not dwell on the what ifs of cosmology. Yes the Earth has a chance of collision and mostly smallish objects are consumed in our atmosphere daily. If the odds were to be calculated of your life being threatened from space debris... Its a very small number. As has been said., be careful crossing the road and while driving... Do not over eat. Enjoy your life, its the only one you get.:)

01101001
2008-Dec-07, 06:31 PM
Has anybody else, while starting out, ever felt afraid or just incredibly hard to take in the fascinating reality & wonder that is the universe?

Could be worse. You could be an innocent ant about to be stepped on by a vulnerable human.

Or an innocent bacteria about to be stepped on by a vulnerable ant.

timba1988
2008-Dec-07, 07:27 PM
Could be worse. You could be an innocent ant about to be stepped on by a vulnerable human.

Or an innocent bacteria about to be stepped on by a vulnerable ant.

Best quote ever.

Seeka
2008-Dec-07, 08:24 PM
Thanks guys for yr replies you have reassured me lol
I guess since ive always had an interest in astronomy i never actually sat down and did research on our solar system, galaxy etc. Plus alot of my friends would not share my enthusiasm so i did not have an outlet for my curiosity, some people seem to just go through life without questioning where that balmy sunshine comes from (not that we see much in Ireland)or that beautiful silver ball that is our moon watching over us every night. Then i buy a scope and start observing and had some excellent answers to my silly questions and last night it all just hit me that we are a blue ball suspended with no strings always moving and i really did freak out! :lol:
I guess i should lower my intake of wikipedia as it did overload my thoughts. Albert Einstein said, 'i never worry about the future, its comes around too quickly' perhaps i should take his advise.
Regards
S.

cosmocrazy
2008-Dec-07, 08:38 PM
Thanks guys for yr replies you have reassured me lol
I guess since Ive always had an interest in astronomy i never actually sat down and did research on our solar system, galaxy etc. Plus alot of my friends would not share my enthusiasm so i did not have an outlet for my curiosity, some people seem to just go through life without questioning where that balmy sunshine comes from (not that we see much in Ireland)or that beautiful silver ball that is our moon watching over us every night. Then i buy a scope and start observing and had some excellent answers to my silly questions and last night it all just hit me that we are a blue ball suspended with no strings always moving and i really did freak out! :lol:
I guess i should lower my intake of wikipedia as it did overload my thoughts. Albert Einstein said, 'i never worry about the future, its comes around too quickly' perhaps i should take his advise.
Regards
S.

Your are right Steffanie, its amazing to know that we live on a small planet orbiting just one of billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies! And that is just what we can observe with current technology! Stick around this forum and you will learn lots and carry on asking your questions, (even if you feel they may sound a little odd) there are some very knowledgeable folks here on BAUT!!

welcome and regards David

Cougar
2008-Dec-07, 08:49 PM
...last night it all just hit me that we are a blue ball suspended with no strings always moving and i really did freak out! :lol:

Yes, to do one's best to imagine the size of the universe around us, just the visible universe, I think freaking out is mandatory. You look out between the stars, and you're thinking, "That goes on a long ways out there..." And there's this looking-back-in-time thing going on. It's a mindblowing thing, there's no getting around it. :)

Seeka
2008-Dec-07, 08:50 PM
Many thanks David, i've already mentioned in another post i was so impressed with the knowledge people have on here, so i do intend to stick around and learn as much as possible and hopefully people will not get tired of my questions as im sure they are not very challenging to answer:lol:
Regards
S.

mugaliens
2008-Dec-07, 09:27 PM
Could be worse. You could be an innocent ant about to be stepped on by a vulnerable human.

Or an innocent bacteria about to be stepped on by a vulnerable ant.

Thanks, 01101001. I'm sure that helps allay her fears rather well... :rolleyes:

Jeff Root
2008-Dec-07, 09:31 PM
Just keep making them more and more challenging GRADUALLY so that
we might have a chance of keeping up with you.

Here are my web pages on the size of the Universe, disguised as a
question and answer about cutting a sheet of paper in half 100 times.
Three pages: Question, answer, and more info.

http://www.freemars.org/jeff/2exp100/question.htm

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

kleindoofy
2008-Dec-07, 10:05 PM
... Has anybody else ... ever felt ... the fascinating reality & wonder that is the universe?
Every evening when I get home from work, I look up into the night sky and think about the stars.

One thought I have is that there's nothing between me and the rest of the universe save for a wee bit of thin gas. No enclosure, no roof, no barrier. I feel safe and warm (relatively speaking, considering the near 0°K of intergalactic space), but in reality I'm terribly exposed to space. Not counting the atmosphere here on Earth, every astronaut on a space walk is better protected in his space suit than I am here. He's hermetically sealed up, looking out through glass, I'm not.

Why travel to outer space? I'm in outer space right here where I am, right smack dab in the middle of it. All of us are.

slang
2008-Dec-07, 10:06 PM
Plus alot of my friends would not share my enthusiasm so i did not have an outlet for my curiosity

Hey hey, join the club! Trust me, at almost 40 years old, that situation still exists. It's not easy to find people near me that are equally impressed and enthused by the universe and everything in it. Most are more concerned with tax levels, footy, soaps, and beer. The beer I'm ok with, most of the other stuff that drives many people bores me. That's one of the nice things about BAUT, so many people with at least partly shared interests.

Robert Tulip
2008-Dec-08, 01:40 AM
armed with my very basic knowledge of the night sky i suddenly realised how small we are in comparison to the universe. Hi Steffanie, the attached pictures are I think quite well known, but well worth a look to show how stupendously big the big stars are.

Earth and Planets (http://www.bautforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=9246&stc=1&d=1228700188)
Planets and the Sun (http://www.bautforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=9245&stc=1&d=1228700188)
The Sun and Arcturus (http://www.bautforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=9243&stc=1&d=1228699947)
Arcturus and Antares (http://www.bautforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=9244&stc=1&d=1228699947)

AGN Fuel
2008-Dec-08, 02:17 AM
...last night it all just hit me that we are a blue ball suspended with no strings always moving and i really did freak out! :lol:


I have still yet to see anyone describe this better than Carl Sagan (http://www.planetary.org/explore/topics/voyager/pale_blue_dot.html). I have this extract block-mounted and hanging in my study.

WayneFrancis
2008-Dec-08, 03:07 AM
I'm in awe and I love it. In one way I feel very very small when I look out into the night sky. In another way I feel very very very very very lucky. Most of the universe is very very different then it is here in South Australia. But I suppose if the universe really is infinite then I was bound to be in a good place. Hell if it is infinite I'm bound to be in many, infinite, places both worse and better then where I am now :)

If you are afraid of what is out there then you should relax. Kind of like stranger danger. Kids have a 1:1,500,000 chance of being abducted and killed by a stranger. They have a 1:75,000 chance of being killed in a friendly football game. Fearing the universe is much like fearing stranger danger but not a football game. There are more important things to worry about over all.

Now I'm not saying no one should worry about stranger danger or objects impacting the earth. The appropriate people should be concerned about these issues. The people that can effect the outcome.

peter eldergill
2008-Dec-08, 03:13 AM
Steffanie have you ever read "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"?

As I recall, there's a psychological weapon a certain race uses which let's the individual know exactly how insignificant they are in terms of the entire universe, driving the victim totally insane. (I'm sure someone here can fill in/fix any details I got wrong...geeks :) )

Hilarious stuff..and welcome to BAUT

Pete

Jens
2008-Dec-08, 04:06 AM
Or an innocent bacteria about to be stepped on by a vulnerable ant.

Sorry to be silly, but just out of curiosity, do bacteria get crushed by being stepped on by an ant? I would think that they might just kind of squeeze away. And just for the record, I've occasionally had the experience of stepping on an ant (on a bumby sidewalk) and having the ant come out of the encounter apparently unscathed.

AGN Fuel
2008-Dec-08, 06:32 AM
Steffanie have you ever read "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"?

As I recall, there's a psychological weapon a certain race uses which let's the individual know exactly how insignificant they are in terms of the entire universe, driving the victim totally insane. (I'm sure someone here can fill in/fix any details I got wrong...geeks :) )

Hilarious stuff..and welcome to BAUT

Pete

[HHG mode]The Total Perspective Vortex[/HHG mode]

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, "You are here."

Edited to note: it wasn't a weapon as such. The man who invented it (Trin Tragula) primarily did so to annoy his wife, who kept scolding him and asking him to keep a sense of perspective. He did it to show that that is one thing a sentient being can't have in an infinite universe!

Seeka
2008-Dec-08, 09:55 PM
Guys thank you for replying :D Im so happy to share my fascinated thoughts with you all. I've taken on board your opinions & advise and almost gone mad trying to figure out the math on Jeff Roots link! lol :wall: But seriously i have learned more in the few days i am here than in the weeks i've had my head stuck in 'Astronomy for dummies'. Hopefully i will be answering posts for people someday like you all.
Clear Skies!

CJSF
2008-Dec-08, 10:21 PM
Hey hey, join the club! Trust me, at almost 40 years old, that situation still exists. It's not easy to find people near me that are equally impressed and enthused by the universe and everything in it. Most are more concerned with tax levels, footy, soaps, and beer. The beer I'm ok with, most of the other stuff that drives many people bores me. That's one of the nice things about BAUT, so many people with at least partly shared interests.

Footy? Isn't that the thing shoe stores have boxes of so you don't try on shoes in your bare feet?

CJSF

Romanus
2008-Dec-08, 10:58 PM
RE OP: I don't know if this is anything like what you experienced, but I've been in astronomy half my life, and I still can't wrap my mind around a galaxy. A planet, yes, or a star, nebula, or even a massive cluster; when it comes to seeing a galaxy with my own eyes though, and knowing what it is, it truly, consciously feels like too much. I'm like a paramecium trying to comprehend the Pacific Ocean. Ah, but I try...

Delvo
2008-Dec-09, 06:35 AM
Now I want to know how this website chooses the "Similar Threads" for the list at the bottom of the page is done. According to that list right now, a similar thread to this one is Anyone see "300"? (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/55350-anyone-see-300-a.html).:eh:

astromark
2008-Dec-09, 08:26 AM
We are so small and the universe is so big.... yes. I can understand this.
A quick trolling of and around this web site shows me that this subject has many devotes. The question changes but the understanding is the same. Comprehending the smallness of Earth and our place in the enormity of just this Galaxy and understanding the billions of those that make the universe a almost empty place...:)
Yes I do understand it. So can you. All you need to do is put aside any preconceived ideas of humanity having any significance at all. We are not. Do not and, can not hold any special place in the grand big picture. Start small and beginning with just the galaxy is enough initially. I have watched the number of stars in this galaxy increase as our understanding and observational ability has improved. Regardless of the actual number, ( we can not see them all ) Its very, very big. Without doing a great deal of work I except that number may still be conservative at 300 million. If you are far enough North you can see M31. You know it as Andromeda. It would seem to be as big and have a similar number if not more... How many Galaxies like this are there. More than grains of sand on planet Earth. Billions of billions if not actually infinite. We do not know the answer to this question yet. Go down to a beach. Throw a handful of sand... Think about it. This little blue planet we know so well is so small and insignificant. Its hard to imagine but, you can. I know you can.
Now you think you have a understanding...Yes.
No. Because next they tell you that more than three quarters of the Universe is Dark matter that as yet we do not see or know much about at all. That it is also continuing to accelerate away being some part of some force called dark energy, and whats that about ?... :)mark