Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where Are We Going? How Fast? (Something fun)

Edwin Hubbell ( was poking around in the corners of the cosmic closet and discovered he couldn’t quite reach the corners & then discovered he wouldn’t - ever. The continuously expanding closet; it was a game changer.

Next, a quick grade school astronomy review. We know the earth is spinning away on its polar axis. We know the moon doesn’t spin in that way, but is on a just-right-orbit around earth to give us those beautiful full moons every 28 days. We also know this earth-moon duo dances around our sun once a year. OK; we’re starting to get a lot of things in motion here.

Add to that, we know our little solar system has a handful of other solar orbiters and the whole lot is part of our galaxy, the Milky Way. And of course, thanks to Edwin, we know it’s all headed away from everything else out there, including the starting gate.
But wait! Turns out the earth, our solar system, our galaxy (Milky Way) and our Local Group; whoa! Local Group? (Thank you again Edwin In his poking around, Edwin discovered that the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies are the main players in our Local Group and each have a series of smaller satellite galaxies. Don’t forget! Everything’s moving. Hmmmm; the synapses aren’t firing quite fast enough to keep up the mental model. Neo, where are you?

How fast is fast? Well for the earth’s solar orbit: it turns out that we’re travelling around the sun at a mere 66,700 miles per hour. So at the end of a day we’ve trotted about 1,600,800 miles. Keep up your electrolytes! And for the year: 584,292,000 miles.

But wait, everything else is moving too. How fast? Well turns little speck earth & companions are going about 600Km/s or 372.823 miles in one second. Ummm, that’s 16,369.38 miles per minute and 982,162.8 miles in one hour. Look out Jackie Joyner!

Holy cow! That means the mileage for 24 hours = 23,211,907.2 miles; and that extrapolates to an annual rate of 8,603,746,128 miles. Toyota, we need a different odometer and the Gatorade truck doesn’t seem to be keeping up.

Now for the where part; the spot, place, location we were just in when you started to read this, well, we were never there before and never will be again. It’s always new and changing. Never have to visit the boring places twice. Ever! So long before Scotty, Kirk, Spock et al showed up, we’d been doing this “places never gone before” thing, a long, long time. And never going back. Talk about "The Wanderer". It's the peripatetic earth.

And contrary to things appearing to be the same, they’re always changing. Everything. Always.

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