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and that we all must die for God…and country…

November 18, 2015

God moves the player, he, in turn, the piece.

But what god beyond God begins the round

of dust and time and dream and agonies?

                                                                       – Jorge Luis Borjes


What am I to make of our little planet spinning on its axis at 40,000 kilometres an hour, whirling through space at some 60,000 kilometres per hour, held in the grasp of a relatively small star one hundred and twenty million kilometres away?

What is a million kilometres anyway?

A hundred million?

Pluto is four and a half billion kilometres from the sun. What does four thousand five hundred million kilometres look like?

Our nearest galactic neighbours are 160,000 light years away.

What is the distance light travels in a year look like? (One light year = 300,000k/sec[speed of light] x 60 seconds (18,000,000k/min) x 60 minutes (1,080,000,000k/hr) x 24 hours (25,920,000,000k/day – already nearly six times the distance beyond Pluto!) x 365 days = 9,460,800,000,000 kilometres per year. (Nine trillion, four hundred sixty billion, eight hundred million kilometres per year.)

How far then is this distance when it will take light – moving at 9,460,800,000,000 kms/yr – one hundred sixty thousand years to reach our nearest neighbour?

Are we that alone in the universe? My head explodes!

(It is the same distance as those games you played as a child. “I’m a million times stronger than you are!” “Well, I’m a billion times stronger!” “Hmpf! Then I’m a bazillion quadrillion to infinity times stronger.” That’s how far it is…)

Explain to me how to understand that our sun is powerful enough to hold the nine planets, some billions of kilometres away, in its grasp.

My little planet earth has a diameter of 12,756 kilometres. The sun? 1,392,000 kilometres. (Multiply the size of the period at the end of the sentence 190 times, and that will give you a sense of the relative size of the sun to the earth.)

How do I comprehend our sun having a mass 300,000 times more than my planet?

Of all the matter in our solar system – when you add up all the planets and comets and asteroids and space dust – 99.99999% of it is still only contained within the sun.

After that, 99.99% of the remaining .000001% is contained in the planets Saturn and Jupiter.

And even after that, Uranus is still another fourteen times larger then our planet earth.

Even within our own little solar system, our planet is mere dust.

How do I comprehend the notion that if I look in any direction it is twelve billion light years to the outer edges of our known universe?

That, in fact, this is not even the edge of the universe, but only as far as we can see at the moment. And that we live in an ever-expanding universe. (And what, may I ask, is it expanding into?)

How do I come to terms with the fact that our third rock from the sun is a mere dustmite in its own solar system, amongst billions of solar systems in millions of galaxies in what Stephen Hawkings now tells us is an infinite number of universes? Universes, which appear to have been spilled like pails of water, stretching out and evaporating at the speed of time.

In such vastness, aren’t we back where we started from when we first pulled ourselves out of the muck and first looked around ourselves? Are we not the centre of our universe?

One day, in an almost-infinite future (20 billion years – give or take), our universe will have spread itself so thin that it will dissolve into nothingness, and it will simply disappear.

The universe spreads and moves and will dissolve like an evaporating pail of spilled water on a sunny afternoon. Like the dust you see in a ray of sunshine. Like it was never there.

One day in a much nearer future (one-quarter of the way to the end of our universe) our sun will run out of fuel. It will fizzle and pop, and then be no more. It will be gone.

Now, long before this unhappy event, our sun will run out of hydrogen and will have gone nova, or supernova, or will have simply collapsed in on itself (whatever it is that stars do when they die). When the hydrogen runs out, the sun will begin to burn its remaining heavier gases. By burning the heavier gases, it will begin to expand – like a balloon – and it will continue to expand, and expand, until it reaches the earth. (Imagine that, if you can!)

The sun will have become so big and so hot it will melt the surface of the outer planets in our solar system. Our little planet will have long since evaporated away into nothingness.

And long before that happens, long before our third planet from the sun is turned into soup, the sun will have already long before burned away all organic life on our little planet (assuming we don’t do it to ourselves first).

And long before that it will have become too hot for any living thing to survive on the surface of the planet. Earth, long before then, and for millions of years, will look like Mercury. Or Mars.

The ultimate and final mass extinction.

Whom…I wonder, will write about my God then?

Who will write about yours?

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