Friday, March 21, 2014

It's a Big World After All

The goal of this blog is to turn the dinner table into a "deep-talk-table"... Please print and share.

CLOWN1The picture to the left gives you an idea of how we started our week.

Purim with kids!

Family, friends!


But the week's news has dragged us out of our narrow shell.

1. They STILL can't find the airplane? It just disappeared?

2. The Russian empire strikes back?

3. Proof of the Big Bang?


Let's start to make sense of all of this with a question for your table, and then we'll get to the airplane.

Question: Gut reaction  - is Planet Earth big or small? (Gut reaction, please.)

Some people say big, some say small.

(I never heard someone say "medium".)

OK, with that in mind, let's talk about the airplane and those 239 people on board.

KL airport grafitti

How many of us feel or felt a bit baffled by the fact that hundreds of ships, airplanes and sattelites can't find this Boeing 777?

The problem is that we just don't get how big the ocean is.

It's really, really quite big.

And what's even more counter-intuitive is that the vastness of the ocean is just a thin skin on the surface of Planet Earth.

Planet Earth is HUGE.

earth cross section

You and I are tiny little specks of nothing compared to the Earth.

Now, every school child know that the Earth is quite small compared to the sun.


How many earths could you fit inside the sun? Want to guess?

About 1.4 million.

Earth sun comparison

The sun is of course one of a group of suns.

Any idea how many suns (stars) are in the Milky Way Galaxy?

You Are Here

More than a million.

More than a billion.

At least one hundred billion.

And most of that is vast regions of empty space!

And thanks to the Hubble Telescope, we have an estimate of how many galaxies are out there.

Wanna guess?

The current estimate is about a hundred billion or so.

That's 100,000,000,000.

So do the math. Based on those numbers, how many stars should there be in the universe?

                       x 100,000,000,000

(Give or take...)

(Anyone know how to say that number? Ten ______?)

Does that seem big?

Is "big" the appropriate word here?

How about "gigantic"? "Humungous"? "Ginormous"?

Yet here we are, little specs of nearly nothing on the outer crust of our tiny little blue space ship near the outer edge of one galaxy.

And we're still fighting each other over ownership of every inch of that crust.

As Kurt Vonnegut said, our problem is that gravity has created a situation where every human being needs some part of the earth to cling to.

So now we can get to today's main question for your table:

Why does any of this matter?


Shabbat Shalom

PS - My "Judaism, Christianity, Islam" seminar is now online:
PPS - Our public service site has been stocked with links to great Pesach books and gifts, even matzah!
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