A Sense of Time and Scale
in the Universe


Our modern perception of the Universe has been drastically reshaped from the corresponding perception of only a few hundred years ago.

Changing Perceptions of the Universe

Our understanding of the Universe with respect to it size, temporal duration, the kinds of events that take place in it, and the kinds of objects that it contains has undergone serious revision in the last few centuries: Thus, the Universe of the modern astronomer would be largely unrecognizable to her counterpart from a few centuries ago. We can only speculate whether our present understanding of the Universe will appear as quaint 400 years from now as the views from 400 years ago appear to us.

A Sense of Scale

If the solar system were the size of a table, the Andromedae Galaxy would lie at 10 times the distance to the moon and the most distant galaxies would lie at 60 times the distance to the Sun.

A Sense of Time

If we were to compress the time since the Big Bang into one year, and make the time of the Big Bang January 1, Thus, all of human history is but a fleeting instant on the cosmic timescale.


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