Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Kids Are Fighting In The Sandbox

Big place, this universe of ours. I've been studying it since I was 14 and the moon was six feet closer to us than it is now. (Yes, we are losing it at the rate of 1.5 inches per year; when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, it was about 63 feet closer.)

We're pretty far out in a galaxy of who knows how many stars ... 100 billion? 300 billion? ... shaped somewhat like a fried egg. If there was a big flash at one edge, nobody on the other edge would see if for 100,000 years; from top to bottom? 10,000 years. That's just our galaxy, our collection of stars, our little island in the sky.

Some unbelievable distance away, so far that it takes light two million years to get here, is the beautiful Andromeda galaxy. If they sent us a message around the time the dinosaurs were wiped out, it won't get here for another 600,000 years. You know what that's part of? It's called "The Local Group." A bunch of galaxies that are so close, as the universe sees things, that they, and we, are seen as "those guys over there."

We used to think there were something like a hundred billion galaxies. Then, one fine day, an astronomer said, "Oops." Another astronomer asked, "What was that all about?" The reply was, "We missed some. I just found two million more and there might be a whole bunch of others."

A hundred billion galaxies, maybe more; each one has upwards of three hundred billion stars; who knows how many planets and civilizations. The universe is huge, beyond our ability to understand it. And on this planet, this little sandbox where kids play, there has been fighting going on for centuries. If only the kids would look up into the sky and see the glories there, how insignificant their battles, that each one's god could not possibly be telling them to kill the others. Forget their holy books; just buy a good astronomy book and see the wonders of the universe, the smallness of this sandbox we call Earth. You really want to rule a sandbox?

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The previous blog, "A Profitable Day," was written for Friday and done very late that night. The blog-clock clicked over to Saturday even thought I did a quickie and typed as fast as I could.


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