10 Facts About Our Universe To Add Some Perspective To Your Day


Do you ever think about what lies outside of our beautiful planet? I love all that astronomical and cosmological stuff (Many thanks to @ProfBrianCox and his wonderful TV programmes for that!) and I do think that sometimes looking outside of the world around us can help to give a better perspective on some of the small stuff that we all worry about in our lives.

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened”.  ~Michel de Montaigne

So here are 10 things about our amazing Universe to remind you of where fit in the grand scheme of things. Even if they don’t make your day feel any better I hope you learn something new to give you pause for thought.

There are estimated to be 10 billion, billion stars in the observable Universe, that’s just the bit we have been able to see so far! If you would like to see that in real numbers it’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Our nearest star is the Sun so the number of planets and moons is even larger than that. Kind of makes you feel small and insignificant really.

Our Solar System is located in the Milky Way galaxy, which has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years and contains about 200 billion stars. To put that distance into some sort of perspective a light year is the distance that light would travel in a vacuum in a year or approximately 6 Trillion miles so 100,000 light years is a long, long way.

You may feel quite still at the moment but depending where you are on Earth you could be travelling at anything up to 1,230 kilometers per hour with the rotation of the Earth, add on the 107,000 kilometers per hour as the Earth revolves around the Sun and you are fair whizzing along, hope I haven’t made you feel dizzy.

Imagine for a moment that the history of the Universe were squeezed into just one year. The first humans would have appeared at 11:39pm on the 31st of December, the Greek philosophers would have arrived 5 seconds before midnight and everything since the discovery of America by Columbus in the last second before midnight.

You could theoretically fit all of the human race in the volume of a sugar cube. That apparently is due to the fact that an atom has a lot of empty space into it so if all that was squeezed out there wouldn’t be much left. We are all just a load of fresh air really :-)

There could (again theoretically) be somewhere in the Universe where there is a copy of me writing this post and you reading it! I couldn’t begin to start explaining the quantum theory behind this but I recommend you read this excellent and entertaining article from Marcus Chown if you would like to learn more.

Recent research has shown that there about 10 billion stars with planets in our galaxy alone in the “habitable zone” – the distance from the star where solid planets can be found many of which could in theory be capable of supporting life.

The farthest man made object in space is Voyager 1 which was launched in 1977 with a mission to study the outer Solar System. It’s flown past Jupiter and Saturn and is still going strong. Voyager 1 has so far travelled the equivalent of 119 journeys between the Earth and the Sun and is still sending back information to earth. It will need to fly for another 40,000 years before it reaches the nearest star system to our own.

Each Voyager space probe carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that either spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems. The discs carry photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings  and a medley, “Sounds of Earth”, that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, and a collection of Earth music, including works by Mozart and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.

The disc also contains pictorial and mathematical instructions as to how to play it – that could be really handy if any of the ‘youth of today’ find it and wonder what to do with it in this digital age!

Voyager Update 13th of September 2013 – Voyager probe ‘leaves Solar System’

If an alien ever visits earth the respective strength of our gravity compared to their own planet might mean that they could leap amazing distances and heights, keep that in mind when you are watching the Olympics!

I know that all of this won’t pay the bills but I hope that sometimes thinking on a grander scale will make you smile at yourself when you are sweating on some of the trivial stuff that we concern ourselves with – it works for me!

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow”  ~Swedish Proverb

Perhaps the world would be a better place with less conflict, aggression and greed if the Human Race could take a look outside of our own small world and remember how lucky we are to exist in this vast Universe and in this brief moment in time.

Please do let me know what you think, are we sometimes just too insular and should we think on the larger scale sometimes?

Many thanks for visiting the Top 10 Blog, I hope you will share this post with the Universe if you have enjoyed it :-)

*Image credits

Earth man – Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sounds of earth Disc – Wikipedia

  • Hi Tony,

    I appreciate these kinds of fact too. I enjoy looking at the stars and wondering what else and or who else is out there.

    • We certainly only understand a tiny part of what goes on around us Jack – maybe it’s just as well :-)

  • Cool info; it truly is amazing how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. I guess you would have to have the capability to travel at warp speed to really get out and see what it beyond what we currently know, huh? 

    It’s probably pretty presumptuous to think we are the only living creatures in this big ol’ universe, right.

    Interesting indeed; thanks for sharing. 

    • Thanks for stopping by Bill, I’m sure there are other civilisations out there but they are probably so far away that we may never find them – unless of course they find a way to travel faster than we can and find us first!!

  • Vicki Kessel

    Interesting information! 

  • As you said, dear Tony, thinking about this facts won’t pay our bills or even relieve some pains, but surely helps me -at least- to give my day some perspective and realize that a spilled glass of water on my just waxed floor or someone’s irrational rage or stuff like that :p is nothing but a point in history and shouldn’t stop me from enjoying the blessing of a rich life like this we have on earth :)

    • Many thanks for the kind comment Silvia, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that it helped to add some perspective to your day :-)