Saturday, August 23, 2008

Redefine, part 1: Space.

Earth, at the equator, has a circumference of roughly 24,900 miles. Given that the earth completes one full rotation daily, one point on earth travels the same 24,900 miles in roughly twenty-four hours. This converts to one thousand, five hundred, twenty-one feet per second.

Additionally, the Earth (which is constantly rotating) is revolving around the sun at a rate of approximately eighteen and a half miles per second (thanks to Wikipedia and Google for doing the math). It completes this revolution once every 365 days.

Now realize that the earth revolves and rotates simultaneously. Which means that the first paragraph is happening as part of a bigger picture: the second paragraph. These two concepts put together account for quite a bit of movement. Realize that this system of movements is relatively insignificant compared to the perpetually spinning Milky Way, which is, in and of itself, a relatively miniscule part of the infinitely expanding universe. One static point on earth is far from static on a cosmic level. That point is, in fact, moving extremely fast in several directions, each at varying speeds.

Step back far enough, however, and it appears as though we’re not moving at all. Movement is relative. Looking at the universe as a whole, the Earth would appear to be static. It’d take millions of years to see any movement whatsoever. Likewise, from our perspective here on earth, any point not obviously moving is said to be static. In actuality, however, said point is hurdling through space at many miles per second.

Zoom in far enough, however, and it’s plain to see that everything is moving exponentially faster than we’re capable of comprehending. We’re made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are, in turn, made of protons, electrons, and neutrons, all of which is made of unfathomably small particles called quarks. From the perspective of a single quark, electrons are whizzing by like bullets, soaring through empty space. This empty space is so miniscule, however, that a collection of atoms (lets say copper or iron, something tangable), bonded together, appears to be solid. The volume of each individual atom greatly outweighs its mass, due entirely to the void between the nucleus of each and their respective electron orbits. The chaotic movement of the electrons is invisible to the naked eye, which sees nothing more than a large collection of atoms, represented by either a solid, liquid, or gas. We’re incapable of imagining the constant movement, both sub-atomically and cosmically, that occurs around us.

1 comment:

JScully said...

This is fun to read.