Talk about size and distances.
On July 16, 1994, a huge comet will smash into Jupiter, a planet whose mass is 300 times that of earth, a planet that is more than 390,000,000 miles from earth.
What is 390,000,000 miles? When our earth has a diameter of a mere 25,000 miles, how can we comprehend 390,000,000 miles; or even the meager 93,000,000 miles to the sun.
And when our solar system is viewed for what it really is, a collection of inconsequential spheres of matter revolving around a relatively small star (the sun), one of thousands of stars visible on a clear July night, all of which are a part of a galaxy – a not very large galaxy, at that – and beyond our galaxy, there are thousands of other galaxies, stretching billions of miles into a vast, dark void hundreds of light years away, the human mind begins to boggle.
How can dark space be so vast, so limitless, so cold, stretching into such an incomprehensible void of nothingness?The closest we can come to experience this nothingness is to be in an unlit, windowless room or stairwell, where not a pinhole of light invades, nor a sound. Total blackness. Although our eyes are open, we see nothing. Although our ears can hear, we perceive nothing. We strain to hear. Still nothing. Pervasive, all consuming – nothing. This emptiness, this state, or lack of state, continues how far, how long? To infinity? Forever? Is there an end to nothingness. Indeed, was there a beginning.
Perhaps this vastness can be brought into manageable perspective by picturing an apple hanging in a tree. If that apple were, as it and all other matter is, inhabited by microbes, or cells, or atoms, to those microbes or atoms, the apple is the world.
Not so very far away from the first apple, on the same branch, is another apple, another world. And not very far from the first two, is yet another apple. Consider each of these apples another planet, another world. Thus, on one tree hangs hundreds of worlds, each independently suspended within the branches of the tree. That tree, then, is a galaxy.
Not very far away, there is another tree, another galaxy, so to say. And from the branches of that other tree, are hundreds of other worlds, each complete in itself, each independently suspended.
Now, think of each of these trees being part of a row of trees stretching up a short hill to the edge of the apple grower’s property line. Not a far distance away, is a parallel row of trees, stretching up the same hill. Each tree supports its own galaxy of apples. If one were to stand on the top of the hill, one could see row upon row of apples trees, filling acres of the orchard.
Not very difficult to consider a thousand trees (galaxies) within which are suspended two or three hundred apples (worlds) is it? We could even be comfortable knowing that just down the road there is another orchard, with another thousand trees, and another hundred or two hundred thousand apples.
It is certainly not a mind boggling thought to think of all those apples. Far from it.And it shouldn’t be hard to consider the vastness of the universe any longer.
The real question now becomes: whose orchard is.