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Awe-some

I'm feeling a bit in-awe today.  The word awsome has changed its meaning somewhat over the last 50 years.  These days, people bandy it about like "Cool" or "Hey that's great!". But I prefer to reserve it to describe the almost spiritual feeling we get when exposed to something truly amazing.

The reason for my feeling of awe today is that I was contemplating the size of the Universe.

I was watching an episode of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, for the first time since I was a child.   I hadn't really thought about it before, but our sun is one of 200 billion (or so) other stars in our one single galaxy (the Milky Way).  Our galaxy is one on a million billion other galaxies, each one with it's own 200 billion stars.  Isn't that utterly mind boggling? Isn't that awesome?


And what about time? Carl gave an excellent analogy. Let's say that all of time has been compressed into a single calendar year.  The big bang happens during the first second of the first of January.

All of human history, everyone you've ever heard of, from the ancient Greeks, to the Romans, to the dark ages, right up to World War II and everything in between has happened within the last few seconds of the last minutes of the calendar, 31st of December at 11:59 and 58 seconds. Isn't that awesome?


To say that we humans are insignificant doesn't even begin to describe it.  But it's not the whole story.  When Sagan says "We are a way for the universe to know itself", it's really true.  The universe itself is obviously unconscious, but we humans, and any other life that has managed to grasp onto existence really are the proxied consciousness of the very cosmos itself.  That fills me with awe. It's truly awesome.

Oh, check this out.

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