I know that for everyone there are some days when you just can't win. But when you feel insignificant in a world of 7 billion people (as of 2013) who live on a small planet that orbits an average star that is only one of a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy that is only one of a hundred billion galaxies in the Universe -- consider this:
The odds against your existence are much much greater than the number of atoms in the Universe. In fact, probably greater than all the subatomic particles in the Universe.
How could that be? Well consider how unlikely it was that your mother met your father. And then consider the chances of their particular combination of sperm (out of the many millions your father produced) and egg (out of the hundreds your mother produced) that created you. Now take that same unlikely event back in time to your four grandparents, your eight great-grandparents, your sixteen great-great-grandparents etc. etc. to primal beings billions of years ago that started this chain of events.
Still don't believe me -- well, do the math:
Here is a link to a detailed explanation of the calculation:
Dr. Ali Binazir -- on the above web page -- computed the numbers.
"The number of atoms in the known universe is estimated at 1080 " [ED: 10 followed by only :) 80 zeros.]
"The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 102,685,000 — yes, that's a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes!"
Now I know we are often told told how insignificant we are. For example, consider Carl Sagan's famous statement about the Earth as a tiny pale blue dot in space:
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.
Quoted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PaleBlueDot.jpg
As we all know, people walking along the sidewalks of New York City look like ants when viewed from the top of the Empire State building, but that does not diminish or change their value as people. And when we are back down walking along the street, we see these people quite differently.
Where we live is fragile, isolated and alone in the Universe as far as we know. Which is all the more reason to value it, hold it dear, celebrate it - protect it. And all the more reason to realize that we are unique.
The Blue Dot and its fragility, "underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known." Carl Sagan added.
So take a break. Look at the sunset. Enjoy the moment. Build a better life for your children and grandchildren in the future.
You and those who follow you are unusual and quite unlikely.
I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. [ED: Please note the word "immortal"]
Nobel Prize Speech
December 10, 1950
Just a few days ago the NASA New Horizons spacecraft did a flyby of the planet Pluto -- which completed a full exploration of all the major planets by human spacecraft -- a quest that began about 50 years ago. This marks a milestone in human achievement.
While Pluto has been technically downgraded to a dwarf planet, Pluto is extremely important because its discovery opened the door to an entirely different view of the solar system. The discovery of Pluto in 1930 led, 60 years later, to a major new understanding about our solar system. Pluto is the largest -- as far as we know -- and first known object of the Kuiper Belt. This large unexplored region, only discovered in 1990, contains perhaps 100,000 objects on the edge of our solar system.
So as we learn more and more, we realize we have just begun to learn. And we also become more aware that we as a species are remarkable and unique because we can ask these questions, explore, and build devices that take us even further.
its largest moon, Charon was all we had from the hi-tech Hubble space telescope. (nasa.gov)
- showing us a world we never imagined. (nasa.gov)
and yield new ideas about our solar system and our life on Earth. (nasa.gov)
Images of the Kuiper Belt and caption from: