Skeptical Sunday: Less Than a Speck
No time for a big long post today, so a couple of YouTube videos showing essentially the same thing: the comparative sizes of objects in space.
I like this first one because it’s animated and so you get a sense of relative scale that doesn’t require too much imagination.
This second one is not animated, just a simple slideshow in which the previous slide’s contents shift up to the left-hand corner for scale reference with the new objects. This one requires a little bit more work on the part of the viewer to keep our relative scale in mind, and at a certain point even the broadest imagination will probably fail to fully comprehend (mine certainly does — what’s smaller than “infinitesimal?”).
But what I like about this one is that it’s updated for 2009 with new findings (the one I’d seen before was the 2008 version), and he goes beyond the largest known star and starts comparing nebulae and galaxies.
Religious folk occasionally say that a “materialist” viewpoint leaves no room for a sense of awe and wonder. This, to me, betrays a serious lack of imagination, and understanding. Religious or not, I think the sight of VY Canis Majoris compared to our planet would take any thoughtful person’s breath away. Speaking for myself, it’s dizzying.
Both videos are available in YouTube HD — click through to the actual YouTube pages if you want to blow your mind just a little more.