Losing the Human Perspective in the Vastness of the Cosmos

When I pause and reflect on our expanding universe, with its galaxies hurtling away from one another, embedded within the ever-stretching, four-dimensional fabric of space and time, sometimes I forget that uncounted people walk this Earth without food or shelter, and that children are disproportionately represented among them.

When I pore over the data that establish the mysterious presence of dark matter and dark energy throughout the universe, sometimes I forget that every day—every twenty-four-hour rotation of Earth—people kill and get killed in the name of someone else's conception of God, and that some people who do not kill in the name of God kill in the name of their nation's needs or wants.

When I track the orbits of asteroids, comets, and planets, each one a pirouetting dancer in a cosmic ballet choreographed by the forces of gravity, sometimes I forget that too many people act in wanton disregard for the delicate interplay of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land, with consequences that our children and our children's children will witness and pay for with their health and well-being.

And sometimes I forget that powerful people rarely do all they can to help those who cannot help themselves.

I occasionally forget those things because, however big the world is— in our hearts, our minds, and our outsize atlases—the universe is even bigger. A depressing thought to some, but a liberating thought to me.


Tyson talks about how easy it is to forget human dilemmas when we consider the immense size of our Universe.

Folksonomies: humanity universe scale

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twenty-four-hour:Quantity (0.010000 (neutral:0.000000))

Universe (0.976778): dbpedia | freebase
General relativity (0.841178): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Dark matter (0.777591): dbpedia | freebase
Earth (0.624696): dbpedia | freebase
Galaxy (0.620850): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Big Bang (0.605994): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Space (0.579470): dbpedia | freebase
Dark energy (0.568969): dbpedia | freebase

 Space Chronicles
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Tyson, Neil deGrasse (2012-02-27), Space Chronicles, W. W. Norton & Company, Retrieved on 2012-05-07
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: science