Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Imagining the Universe with Kitty Litter

If you imagine the universe, instead of as what exists beyond the the thin layer of elements that separate us from everything, but as an endless expanse of darkness with droplets of stars floating in determined circles around massive all-consuming, all-absorbing black holes, you'll discover that this is impossible. No matter how hard I know that the universe is thirteen billion years old, that stars are so massive it could take 1100 years to fly around one (a big one) in a jet plane, that millions and billions of these objects inhabit the rest of the dark, vast expanse of everything--in my head the looming rent bill still seems bigger.

When I see this picture-- 

--the biggest thing I can imagine is a dust storm blowing over cities and farms and continents. But this picture represents the birthing process of stars: the Orion Nebula having babies as big as or bigger than our sun, far bigger than our Earth, and incomprehensibly larger than me.

I'm a girl. Sometimes I feel fat. Well. Here's the thing:

Watch this. 

I'm not fat.

I like to imagine the universe. I spend hours and days and months and eventually years trying to picture it, to capture it with words or pictures or simply with thought, but I never will. I also don't care. Despite the immense impossibility of ever understanding the whole thing, it still fills me with wonder (which is a great feeling), reminds me that there's so much more to find and see than the little things that sit in front of me everyday, and it makes even the most mundane seem valuable.

Our magnificent universe, working and working without ever stopping, building and destroying, thinking and innovating; our magnificent universe, functioning in perfect rhythm, ignoring tiny little me who so admires its beauty and grace but still creating the perfect conditions for my existence; our magnificent universe filled with massive stars and planets, made of every element imaginable, filled with black holes and galaxies, life and death and existence, is swirling around itself, dying and breathing and living, and I am lucky enough to be allowed to change the kitty litter.

For more cool things about the size of the universe, check this!


  1. that really puts things in perspective..... awesome video, too.

  2. Indeed, the dimensions of the universe are baffling. When you think about it, we are nothing compared to the greatness of it all. I don't know if that thought is bad or good. But what I know for sure, is that it is something we can't ignore.

    x Yunes

  3. Infinite time and space - The overwhelming thick, dense black existence that cradles all the matter in the universe. It is the oldest thing around - If it could tell stories, o man:)

    1. You just gave me an idea. A big idea. As in a whole book idea. Well, maybe not. But yes. :) A magnificent universe.