Tuesday Movie – Size of Objects in Space

After the reaction to the first video I thought I’d make this a regular feature for Mondays. Interesting videos from youtube that I find, usually science-related, and post here for discussion chat or just because they deserve more attention.

I picked this one not just because it is funny, but because of the relevance to science fiction. The video provides a sense of scale to the galaxy and the universe, something lacking from a lot of modern science fiction which blithely assumes that their characters will become famous across the entire universe. Even with FTL this is unlikely. The Universe is bigger than most think.

To put this in perspective, Cet has lived 250,000 years. If he had visited a different star system every day for that period, he would not even have visited all the star systems in our arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

In his current lifespan, he could visit 91 million systems. The Orion–Cygnus Arm where our solar system is located, itself probably a spur from a larger arm, is believed to contain ten billion stars. The Milky Way itself contains two hundred billion. 

If he had visited one system in a different galaxy every day, that is 91 million galaxies – where word is unlikely to spread across the entire galaxy – out of the estimated hundreds of billions. He probably would not even have visited all the ones we have seen as even the first Hubble deep field photograph returned 3,000 galaxies and it has taken many more since.

So no, as the video so rightly says, we are not the center of the universe.

Migrated Post: This post was on the now defunct author blog on 23rd December 2013. It’s still true.

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