I just finished reading Lisa Randall's, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. It blew my mind. I've always had a thing for the sky. When I look up at the moon, it's as if I'm seeing a wink from some offstage director telling me it's okay. It resets me. Perhaps it's the moon's clear reminder that I'm living on a planet that helps, and the central thread through this, the need for a reset is that the shenanigans that we're navigating here on earth are all man made.
Randall, in her book, gives us a thorough illustration of the universe with the intent to figure out the origin of the meteoroid (meteor is the streak of light) that caused the dinosaur extinction. The idea is to take the data of the impact that happened (Chicxulub, Mexico) 66 million years ago, plus the previous four major impacts, and try to develop some kind of periodicity. Can we predict when the next one is coming? All this was fine, but I must admit, while reading the book I kept shaking my head, marveling at how vast the universe is.
Wait. That's not right. We're not talking about a mall parking lot. How fucking vast, is better.
Consider the Oort cloud. Instead of water droplets, the Oort cloud is full of small, soon-to-be planets (planetesimals), in a bazillion years or so, and relatively established minor planets. The inner border of this cloud is anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000 AU from the sun, and the outer border is around 270,000 AU further.
AU stands for astronomical unit which is basically the distance between the earth and the sun. The measurement is, 149, 597, 870.7 kilometers. Off you go and do the math!
You will never find where you parked your car.
Let's now consider power: Chunks of rock hurtling to earth at speeds around 13k/s, and exploding with the power of two megatons of TNT, or 100 kilotons. Or 200 kilotons. Some hit. Some explode above the surface. All of them cause some serious redecorating. How about the solar wind? This is no refreshing breeze. This is magnetism streaming off of the sun at 400 k/s. This is too much. You can't even grok this because right now, you're picturing Wiley Coyote struggling to nail the Roadrunner with a couple sticks of dynamite and a push box. The scale is just too big. But it's real. So try.
Now, if your head has not already exploded, consider dark matter. If you can. Because we don't know what it is. Randall admits that there is a lot of it but we can't see it. We can't seem to peg it with our current, anthropic methods. There are theories, but that's all. So think outside the box: It could be God. It could be thought. It could be Nutella. I like the fact that right now, dark matter is nothing but possibility. It's humbling. When I think about it, most scientists are humble. The reason that they're scientists is because they are fascinated by it all. It's the rest of us that need to be reminded of the pure bigiosity of the universe. Perhaps if we were able to take it seriously, we would not be in this climate change predicament. We would get that we are a part of it, connected.
Perhaps we would not be living under this obsolete, ridiculous economic framework that depends on growth instead of sustainability:
Buying instead of being.
Because there is no point to this. We are hamstrung by ideologies and remarkable beliefs that keep us fearful, exhausted, and consuming as much as we can when in reality, all we have is each other. This is a fantastic planet to live on. We should stop sucking so badly at taking care of it. Make no mistake, we are sucking.