Since we have yet to secure some “space talk and chill” time with Neil deGrasse Tyson, we’ve been left to our own devices when it comes to digging up a ton of facts about the universe related to time and space that make us feel extremely small — as in, less than microscopic. Seriously, we’ve never felt more insignificant in our lives than the moment we discovered how minor we are relative to the rest of the universe.
So, if the only thing you know about time is how slowly it passes when you’re counting down the days ’til the weekend, then we’re about hit you with some space-related realness that will completely blow your mind.
Prepare to geek out and be humbled by these 11 facts about time and space that will make you realize just how tiny humans are in the grand scheme of things.
1Earth really isn’t that big.
We totally remember beaming with smug pride as a kid after learning that Earth is the fifth largest planet in our solar system, but that’s because we had yet to be humbled by the largest known star in the universe: VY Canis Majoris.
The red hypergiant is 1,420 times larger than the sun, and is currently expelling 30 times the mass of Earth every year in the form of dust and gas as it nears its demise.
2The number of stars in existence is unknown.
Cornell University’s “Ask An Astronomer,” David Kornreich offered an explanation to Space.com that involved enough zeroes to make our eyes cross:
3Our sun takes up most of the solar system’s mass.
If you were lucky, your parents raised you to believe that you are a unique, special star (and you *totally* are), but we hate to break it ya: You’re nowhere near as crucial to humankind’s existence as the sun, which accounts for 99 percent of the solar system’s mass. Damn, we are extremely small. Still special though.
4Light from space takes a LONG time to reach Earth.
The speed at which light travels in a vacuum is 186,282 miles per second, which is pretty impressive. But even at that rate, it still takes the light from other stars quite a while to reach planet Earth, which is why looking into space is the same as looking back in time.
On average, it takes sunlight eight minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth. When you think about how big the distance must be if it takes light — traveling that fast — so much time to get to us, taking up roughly 5-7 feet of space for less than 100 years feels like it barely exists at all.
5The universe is beyond ancient.
6 And it’s still expanding.
While we’re down here on solid ground scrambling to make the most of our seemingly important existences, dark energy is thought to be causing universal expansion, which boggles the mind, especially when one considers the size of the observable universe.
As PBS reports,
7 New planets are constantly being discovered.
We’re still not sure if we’re the only living species even vaguely like us out there, but it’s kind of hard to find out when we haven’t even nailed down the number of planets that exist.
8 Driving just to the moon would take approximately six months.
According to NASA, 30 Earth-sized planets could fill up the space between our home planet and its satellite, which lies an average distance of 238,855 miles away. Traveling by car at 60 mph, one could expect to arrive at the moon in half a year’s time.
9 One of Jupiter’s storms is larger than Earth.
Although it’s currently shrinking, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is one of space’s most mysterious storm patterns.
10Mars is home to a volcano that’s three times the size of Mt. Everest.
Not only does Olympus Mons on Mars make one of our home planet’s most magnificent peaks look like a mere mound of dirt, it’s considered to be the largest volcano in the solar system.
11Time is only an illusion.
So, are minutes, days, weeks, years and other increments of time measurement only tools made up by humans? That’s what some research suggests, according to physicists who say gravity lacks the strength to push everything in the universe in a forward direction. #mindblown
A ScienceAlert article cites a 2016 paper published in Annalen der Physik that explores the belief that time is all in our heads. One of the study’s authors Robert Lanza writes,
Whoa. Thanks a lot, time and space! Now we *really* feel tiny and insignificant.