Reading about black holes might make you feel small and insignificant

January 11, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

I warned you, but you’re going to click on this link anyway, because you’re too damned curious.   Here’s an excerpt from this NewScientist article:

The most massive known black hole in the universe has been discovered, weighing in with the mass of 18 billion Suns. Observing the orbit of a smaller black hole around this monster has allowed astronomers to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity with stronger gravitational fields than ever before.

Did you get that?  This black hole has the mass of 18 BILLION Suns.  That makes you a tiny essentially weightless speck of dust, a photon, by comparison. 

Consider Dan Klarman’s claim that the universe is simply not specified to a human scale.  And consider these graphic size comparisons of the Earth, the sun and other celestial bodies.

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Category: Meaning of Life, Science

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. This post does not make me feel insignificant. Quite the contrary.

    When I read something like this I marvel at the extreme uninhabitable violence of most of the universe and think how very precious is this little bubble of atmosphere in which we live. Although the odds are against us being the only sentient creatures to ever have sprung into being, as far as we know we are alone in a universe that would freeze us or boil us or rip our very atoms to shreds were we to be exposed to it. Most of creation seems not to be made for us and yet here we are. You and everyone you know and see are incredibly fragile and incredibly precious.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    Erich, you neglected to cite your own earlier post relating to this subject How to make a scale model of the solar system that links to the same source from which your graphic size link cribbed.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan – here’s another post that relates to the topic of the vastness of the universe. It is a post about Carl Sagan, who argued that the God portrayed by traditional religions “is too small. It is a God of a tiny world and not a God of a galaxy, much less of a universe.” http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=1092

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