My brain has a hard time appreciating the full vastness and tinyness of things (I think it's well documented the human brains are not good at this). But when I concentrate and manage to catch a glimpse of a grok of the true scale of things, I get a wonderful feeling. It's easier to do in the middle of the desert at night, or high on an alpine mountain. Or flying. Or at sea, I would imagine.
To help myself return to the feeling, I recently made a table for myself listing examples of length scales separated by 5 orders of magnitude or 100,000 (10^5). They're not perfect, but there's a satisfying symmetry here.
Holding these analogous scales in my conceptualization helps me anchor my imagination (which in turn lets it roam free). So I call them anchor scales.
Prompts exclamations like:
Wait, really? That's insane.
So that's really how much space there is in/out there?
So that's really how tiny that is?
I can see the Andromeda galaxy with my naked eye!
So the sun is like a red blood cell of the galaxy's Earth?
So the sun is to the universe as a hydrogen atom is to the Earth?
Oh, the universe is not that big. Oh, the universe is unimaginable.
Can we make another one for velocities?
i move at 65mph (30m/s), or like 30 (10^1.5) body lengths per second through the bay area. an RBC moving at 10^1.5 lengths per sec is moving at 10^-3.5 m/s (~0.3mm/s). which is probably closest to capillary flow. and main artery flow velocities more like flying a jet over the bay area.
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