EXERCISE 35: The vast
This Exercise is yet another way to reflect on the size of this Universe of ours.
Centre yourself and become still. Read the following, not for scientific facts so much as to let the magnitude of this universe sink in…
Light travels at about one billion kilometers an hour, or about 300,000,000 m per second. It takes light nine minutes to travel from the sun to the earth. Our fastest spacecraft, the Cassini, manages 40,000 m/sec at this point in time. It has taken it nine years to reach Saturn. What light would take a year to travel (this distance is known as a ‘light-year’, or 9.46 trillion kilometres) would take 7,500 years for Cassini to cover. The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.5 light-years away, or a journey of 33,750 years, at the speed of Cassini.
Our Solar System lies somewhere towards the edge of the galaxy in which we find ourselves. We have called it the “Milky Way,” but it is really a swirling spiral of billions of stars. To cross from one edge of our galaxy to the other, light requires 100,000 years. As we look across our galaxy, the stars we see on the other side are as they were 100,000 years ago, when the light we now see left them.
But our galaxy is but one of 100 billion other galaxies in the Universe. At this time, our most powerful telescopes can capture the light from galaxies that lie 2 billion light years away.
Reflect on the smallness, insignificance of humanity in this vast universe. What could our purpose possibly be? Are we just an accident of evolution that happens to be aware of itself, or might the universe have need of sentient beings such as us? And if God is in all things, how vast does that make God?
Record in your Journal anything that is relevant from this experience.