On a Speck

Whenever comparing items, we need references as a perspective. A mouse is small to us, but we are small compared to a blue whale, and the mouse is large compared to one of its cells. Yet, that same whale is small compared to Mt. Everest, which is a meager spot on or planet – but Earth is so small compared to Jupiter.

The pattern can continue to the Sun, our solar system, to the Milky Way, all the way to the universe. Oh, the wonders that creation provides.

Wonder continue as we go in the opposite direction by examining our cells, to cell parts, to the molecule, its atoms, the atomic parts, and even to the smaller quarks.

Each microliter of human blood has approximately 5 million red blood cells (RBC). Considering that 1 liter contains 1 million microliters, and humans have 5 liters of blood, the total number of RBCs in each of us is quite large. Toss in the fact that each RBC contains 250 million molecules of hemoglobin that is responsible for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through over 60,000 miles of blood vessels – and this is in each of us.

As social beings, each of us know many people – well, we think we do – but compared to the world population, are interactions are limited to a mere few. Encounters of the cyberkind expand our world, but it is still small.

Each of us have countless daily interactions – some positive, others negative, and most have little effect. Sometimes we know when we affect the life of another, but much of the time, we stand in a clueless abyss. After all, we do not know when the effect of that encounter is transferred to others – perhaps even years later.

Toss in the element of time – all the people who passed before me, and all those who lie ahead of my time. People born, people die. A few become notables, most are commoners. Some are giants to societies. Some are giants in their towns, while others are giants in a family – but many are simply everyday people playing a niche in life. Yes, we all have history and in time, forgotten. Of all these people, only a selected few have recognized names of distinction – and only a few of them will make history books.

I am only 1 of over 7 billion people on our planet at this time, and only 1 of about 108 billion humans born to through the ages.

In some way, these thoughts make me feel worthless. On the other hand, science – and yes, my Christian views – allow me to appreciate being a tiny speck living on a particle of dust in the universe that is vast and intricate – thus I impressed and overwhelmed.

From Neil deGrasse Tyson

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From Symphony of Science

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63 thoughts on “On a Speck

  1. Very well written Frank! And as you know we disagree on some things, yet agree on many more. As you also know …that Neil deGrasse Tyson video is one on my favorites! AND…I’ve been wanting to post a Symphony of Science video for a while now. Great choice!!!

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    • Alex,
      Going back in my mind, I think your use of the Tyson video is what sparked this post – but then I never got back to going beyond a draft. Thanks for provoking the thought. Although I know the spot of disagreement, that late addition is actually aimed at a different group.

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  2. It is mind-boggling to think about, isn’t it? I guess the best we can hope is to make the most of our own ‘molecules’ and hopefully by doing so, we can improve the ‘molecules’ of those around us.

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  3. As thought provoking as it comes, Frank ……..in my mind, it comes down to that which no words exist to express that which is grandeur. We are a thinking bunch and constantly looking for answers – perhaps too much. Yes we are tiny specks in comparison. Still each speck is special though not always perfect in the rough. Being a ‘self-defecating’ type, my crap and feelings of worthless I put the blame squarely on my own shoulders and the only universe which is important to me is the one that lays within. The spirit within is the only thing in this lifetime I have a hope in hell to fix or maintain.

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  4. I love this concept… it’s beautiful, sad, and wonderfully magical all at the same time. We’re special because we’re tiny specks, we’re meaningless in relation to the whole world, but we’re critical in respect to the small worlds most people live in… it’s all so confusing, but lovely to think on. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the concept. 😀

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    • Rarasaur,
      Many thanks and I appreciate your perspective of the emotions in this post. We impact another’s personal world in ways we don’t think about just like a series of many dominoes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  5. A good article or post Frank… really makes one think about our own insignificant being… although I’m convinced that we are all put on earth for a purpose and most die without knowing what that is… yet my belief tells me we are all important for a reason…. loved this post Frank well done….

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  6. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the sexist men alive! One a fantastic mind. I love the Symphony of Science, but you know I think the first one is even better.

    The idea of connectivity is wonderful isn’t it? Your lead in was thought provoking and perfectly done. Each of us, never worthless as we make our way through the world we touch lives in countless ways that enrich and uplift. Certainly you do so and for this I am most grateful.

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    • Val,
      That intro thought is one I use in conversations when I want to establish a perspective. We think of 1 million being a lot, but it’s not compared to a trillion … then again most people don’t really realize what a million really is.

      About the videos, I had both bookmarked, thus waffled on which to us … but then it hit me – thus both! Glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂

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  7. Hit the nail on the head. It’s always thereabouts in the back of my mind how insignificant in some ways we are, stops me taking myself too seriously. Enjoy the time we have here, don’t get stressed out over stuff, everything around us is pretty amazing if we consider it for just a moment.

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  8. i like degrasse, especially on shows like jon stewart when he points out that the earth on stewart’s graphics is rotating the wrong way.

    in this sentence i think there’s a word missing: “I am only 1 of over 7 billion people on our planet this time…”

    also. AK in studio today occasionally.

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  9. Thinking of myself as a speck in the universe makes me feel happy in the same way as when I step up to the tee on a scenic golf hole with a big wide fairway.

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  10. Frank,
    You’ve touched on things I’ve thought about many times. It’s humbling and thrilling simultaneously. And the fact that we have the minds to quantify and qualify makes it even more humbling. I just feel blessed to be here and to enjoy sharing with others – including my blogging family. Thanks for a great post.
    Cathy

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  11. Love this post, Frank – very fractal 🙂 And I agree with Valentine about Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is always fascinating to listen to and watch, and displays a great sense of humor when he is interviewed on talk shows. Here’s one of my favorite interviews with him on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

    The Daily Show with Jon StewartGet More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

    (I think I’m embedding this properly, but if not, here’s the link instead- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-27-2012/neil-degrasse-tyson)

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  12. This reminds me so much of some Christian DVDs I watched called ‘Indescribable’. It really puts into perspective how tiny we are compared with the universe God has created. Have you seen them? They’re by an American but I’ve forgotten his name xx

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  13. Wonderful post, Frank. I like that I have crossed paths with you in the sea of atoms and the seven billion. I enjoyed the videos; I had never seen them before. I love looking into the night sky. It’s hard to wrap my mind around what is out there. I read once that all we need do to see wonders is to simply look up. So much is missed because we don’t look. I’ll never forget driving home one night, cresting a hill, and seeing the moon so close to the earth, I felt as though I could reach out and touch it. It was huge, and It frightened me, but I was mesmerized. I continually look for that big moon again, but it has eluded me.

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    • Maddie,
      Wonderful thoughts about the sky. Your moon encounter obviously moved you, thus your continual search for it. But someday – maybe someday – it will sneak up and surprise you with its presents.

      I enjoy the Symphony of Science videos, thus have used many of them. The link is on my sidebar under Potpourri.

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  14. Once again, Frank, I find that your thoughts so well expressed and well-written, and are so compatible with my own beliefs. I am not sure that I have ever put the whole train of thought together before, but as I read, I realized that this is truly the essence of what I believe. I really enjoyed and appreciated this post!

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    • Debra,
      Thank you for the kind words. I know you have read many of my posts on this topic, so not only is it good to know that we have similar thoughts, but it’s great knowing that I’ve helped you realize your belief system.

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  17. This is a fantastic post, Frank, mesmerising in its truth. Yes it sort of makes you feel small, but not.

    Loved the videos. Just fantastic.

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