“It takes one second for light to circle the Earth seven times.”
No matter how many times I read this one sentence, no matter how many times I whisper the words, it always stops me in my tracks. My mind comes up against the idea and it makes me smile. If that one wondrous statement is true, then so too are so many other "everyday miracles," a term I hear during Shabbat services on Saturday morning at my temple.
These cosmic miracles can be so comforting.
Our sun is one of at least 100 billions stars, just in our galaxy – the Milky Way. And there are at least 100 billion other galaxies in the universe, each one with its own billion stars. There are more stars than grains of sand on all of the beaches on Earth.
If you were traveling at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 100,000 years to cross just the Milky Way.
If the sun were as tall as a six-foot tree, then Earth would be the size of an olive.
The universe -- which is expanding -- is believed to be fourteen billion years old, at which time it was just one point in space.
When something happens that bothers me, or I’m just feeling kind of glum, I try to remember even one of these wildly amazing facts. Somehow it always helps me to get back on track. We spend our days immersed in our lives, and so often we get caught up thinking we are so important and that everything we do matters so much. But when you start to try to comprehend the gargantuan universe – everything takes on a whole new perspective.
I am thinking about these facts today as I mull over the past year, and look forward to tomorrow. It throws so much light and energy into the meditation.
About 10,000 light-years away in a constellation called Aquila, there is a cloud of alcohol with a diameter 1,000 times larger than our solar system. The amount of ethyl alcohol present in the cloud is equivalent to 400 septillion (that’s 400, followed by 24 additional zeros) drinks.
Think about that tonight when you are toasting the New Year with a drink in your hand.
And one more
A human body, or any object on the Earth, is never at rest. Even when you’re asleep in bed, you’re moving pretty fast. Our Milky Way Galaxy is rotating at 225 kilometers per second, and hurling through the cosmos at an estimated 305 kilometers per second. Add those figures together, and we are racing through space at about 530 kilometers, or 330 miles per second. So in one minute’s time, we’ve traveled almost 20,000 kilometers, or more than 12,000 miles.