Wednesday, January 20, 2010

got a map?

If you have a few minutes this is a pretty astounding little video I saw first thing this morning. Since a trip to NYC is unlikely before summer (or for a good while after) I thought I'd link to this sample and share it with any of you who might be interested in even longer distance travel. Once again we can put a few things in perspective before getting back to hitting each other.

'The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.'

Back soon and hopefully with another little painting to show you but if not, I'll think of something :-)


Steve Emery said...

We all enjoyed this. What a ride! And that blue sphere of the extent of earth radio signals - a bit spooky to think we might be "heard" that far from home. Of course the signal would be so depleted at that distance...

I like to think of the huge ball of photons around my favorite star, which still has a persistent enough signal to be visible in our sky, and to every one of us - actually still visible at every point on the 1200 light year diameter sphere where out solar system sits in relation to it. A prodigious number of photons. Our little sun is not visible on the other end of that line of sight - not even close. I like to think about the photons entering my eye (not to mention all the ones passing me by) leaving that star around the time Columbus was sailing and traveling all that way just to expire, absorbed by my retina. Macro and micro, the universe is impossibly bizarre and beautiful, and ridiculously large.

Thanks for inspiring all this thought by sharing the video.

linda said...

susan, this video simply blew me away...i sat and cried, watching it twice...once, many years ago, another lifetime ago, i did a meditation with my teacher in which he "took" me 'out there'....the tears tonight are because the experience i had that night in my head was very near to what i just saw...and isn't our earth simply beautiful?
thank you for finding and sharing this for us.

Seraphine said...

i barely traverse outside my own head, much less exist outside of my own mind.
my head, compared to the himalayas, is smaller than the head of a pin, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
a billion of my heads would not equal the size of a pixel in that period.
i can see beyond my head, but i cannot understand what is beyond my mind.
when i am gone, no one will ever find me.
i am not alone.

jams o donnell said...

Wow. I only have time to watch a short piece of this right now but I will be back to see the rest. THanks for this!

Spadoman said...

Very well done. Things like this amaze me, and I do believe we are but an insignificant speck in the vast universe. But maybe Dr. Suess did it a better turn with his story, "Horton Hears a Who". I think we are "Whos".


susan said...

steve - Yes, it's kind of interesting to imagine alien civilizations trying to figure out what to make of Amos and Andy, big band music, Walter Lippman or only the shadow knows.. Then we went digital and all became quiet on the airwaves making it very likely they might come by to see what happened.

I'm curious. What is your favorite star if not the one that lights our days with such devotion? There are so many but could it be the one that's my favorite - Betelgeuse?

linda - I'm glad to know you enjoyed it as much as I did and for similar reasons too.

sera - I suspect we're much smaller on the outside than we are on the inside but it is a sobering thought that all of humanity born up until now is still not the number of stars in our galaxy. There's a lot of room out there for a nice game of hide and seek :-)

jams - It really is a treat.

spadoman - There are some who have considered the thought our universe has grown in direct proportion to our ability to envisage it. Maybe we're not so small after all or maybe it doesn't matter.

gfid said...


The Crow said...

Time flew by as time flew by - wonderful experience! Thanks for posting this, Susan.


susan said...

gfid - Exactly my reaction too.

the crow - Finding it was a gift I was excited to share.

Seraphine said...

hide and seek is fun. hiding in plain sight is fun too.
do you remember those stupid 'picture' things in the 1980's that they sold in the malls? you'd have to 'not look at anything' a certain way to be able to see the image?

susan said...

sera - Yow, those things used to drive me crazy and I'd forgotten all about them. There'd be dozens hung all together in a headache inducing collection of confusion. Never mind hiding in plain sight, I'd have to avoid looking altogether.

Sean Jeating said...

Coincidence? :) Only yesterday I posted following Lichtenberg-quotes: 'Astronomy is perhaps the science whose discoveries owe least to chance, in which human understanding appears in its whole magnitude, and through which man can best learn how small he is.'

Enjoyed this very much, Susan. Thanks.

susan said...

sean - A very wise statement. Math is probably at the top of the scale but most of us can't cope at levels higher than balancing the chequebook.