City Slickers

Photo above: City Slickers III. Wind River area, Wyoming. Son Matt, Brother Dave, Son John Paul, Me J.P.

Small Talk

SMALL TALK: View the story of the air rifle that doubled the size of the United States. Fantastic bit of 2nd Amendment history re: Lewis and Clark.

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Spot Gold

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Many evenings of late, as I am out stargazing with my large backyard telescope, I try to wrap my mind around the vast distances I am observing. The size of our Universe is beyond human comprehension--distances so far that even professional astronomers deal with the vastness by using sterile math formulas that refer to distances as ‘parsecs” and “astronomical units” and “light years.” Since I am a kitchen table kind of guy, I needed something a little more down to Earth to try and understand the vastness. With pencil and paper in hand, here’s what I came up with.

Take a tennis ball and put it on the goal line of a football field. On the other goal line, place one of those huge beach balls, about five feet in diameter. The tennis ball is the Earth. The beach ball is the Sun. Use the 300 feet between them to represent the distance from the Earth to the Sun, (about 93,000,000 miles). Using the same scale, how far do you think it would be to the nearest star from our solar system?
A mile? Two miles? Ten miles? Not even close. Using that same scale where a football field represents 93 million miles, the nearest star would be around 33,000 miles away. That, folks, is how much empty space there is out there.

One final note, a little closer to home. People toss around the word trillion dollar deficit as if they really had an idea of just how much money that is. Here is what a trillion looks like:


That's a one with 12 zeros.

Put a dollar sign in front of that and you are talking some serious money. The three stooges have managed to rack up several of those in deficit spending since they took office. Deficit spending is the same as whipping out the old credit card and charging goods and services. Each one of those trillions adds $3,230 owed by every man, woman and child in our country. How would you like to be born today not knowing you are in hock up to your pacifier? When the bill comes due, don’t expect Obama, Pelosi, and Reid to be making the payment. It be we.



Anonymous said...

Whenever I try to imagine outer space and the distances involved, I get creeped out with a sort of reverse claustrophobia.
Here's a pretty good video that helps to get a bare glimpse of the enormity of just the solar system.


JP said...

Good video.

Anonymous said...

The Edge of the Universe is not far enough to me. I want to know what is past that.