Thursday, February 25, 2010

How far is far ?

As I was watching TV, I heard a line saying "How far is it ?"

To my warped brain, I immediately thought ...ya that's great but how far is far ?

Now I know from personal experience that sometimes (when you have a badly broken leg and it really hurts a lot) the few meters to the bathroom is way too far !

On the other hand, when you are heading out with your RV for drive to your favorite "snowbird" resort, that 2,600 kilometers is not very far at all.

So, if we measure our world in centimeters or inches, or kilometers or miles, understanding distances and sizes is fairly easy to grasp.

But what about beyond our world ? What about the universe ? That's where we can really start talking abour far. Maybe even far, far, far, far away.

Our sun is about 93 million miles away. Okay, but how far is that ?

Let's say we jump in the car and drive to the sun at 65 miles per hour. Forget about having to stop for gas because this car has a never ending fuel supply. Driving non stop we would get there in 163 years !

I have seen some drivers on the highway who could probably take a few years off that time, but it's still much longer than our lifetime.

But what if we took a jet plane ? If we now travelled at 500 miles per hour, it would still take us 21 years to get to the sun. At least that's now within a lifetime but we can understand that it is far away indeed.

To kick in up into high gear, the fastest thing we know of is light. And it travels at 186,000 miles per second. At this blistering rate it still takes 8 minutes to get there ! Time enough for a cup of coffee, but you would probably spill some !

If we want to demonstrate this further, the sun would be a navel orange about 5 inches in diameter and the earth would be a sesame seed about 49 feet away !

If we wanted to go farther than the sun, using the navel orange senario, the planet Pluto would be 3,400 feet and the next nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be 2,500 miles away.

If we drove to this star at a relaxing 55 miles per hour we would get there in a whopping 52 million years ! That's pretty far away. And we are just knocking on the door of the Milky Way.

To go one step further, if the sun and planets could fit into a coffee cup, the Milky Way galaxy would be the size of North America.

We are truly a tiny grain of sand in the cosmic sea.

Far is indeed a small word for a very big thing. Okay, now I know you are thinking big is big.

Somebody stop me !

Today's Weather : Low - 3.1, High 10.8, an overcast morning with lots of sun in the afternoon.

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