About 14 billion years ago, the single explosion of a marble-sized mass of energy created the universe. This event, along with the ensuing and rapid expansion of space, has been dubbed The Big Bang – a name denoting this scientific theory for cosmic creation (Origins of the Universe). In the billions of years following the birth of this universe, the accumulation and cooling of gases formed an incomprehensible number of stars, galaxies, and planets not much different than our own earth. Due to the infinite vastness of the universe, it is inevitable for us to feel insignificant and impossibly small. In fact, from a universal perspective our planet is trivial and unimportant. However, from a human's perspective our planet is the only world we have, and the only earth we will ever know. Still we continue to abuse and take advantage of the resources of our planet. In humanity's eyes, our world should be incredibly significant, because our earth matters.
The Milky Way galaxy, home to our solar system, is one of approximately 500 billion galaxies in the known universe. With each galaxy housing upwards of 300 billion solar systems, there are undoubtedly other planets in the universe with the capability to support life (Origins of the Universe). Nonetheless, as Einstein proved in his theory of Special Relativity, it is near impossible to reach these planets because humans will not have the ability to travel at the speed of light in the distant future (Freeman). Our visible universe is dependent on factors of possibility and realism for our existence relies on tangibility.
Recently, astronomers researching NASA's Kepler spacecraft discovered 715 additional exoplanets, nearly doubling the known number of previously verified planets (Overbye). If scientists can double the known realm of the universe in one day, we will never be able to comprehend even a fraction of what exists. As a miniscule part of this astronomical universe, we are worth nothing and have no impact on the rest of the universe.
Yet, everything, including reality, is relative. Through our eyes, this seemingly simple earth is something mysterious and beautiful; we live on a small world, but there are still aspects of this planet that mystify the most intellectual philosophers and scientists. Every individual has the potential to change our earth for better or worse; humans are significant in the sense that we have cognitive abilities and emotion superior to many life forms. Despite our irrelevance from a cosmic outlook, our earth is relevant to the humanity thriving here. As the inhabitants of this globe, we need to take care of and respect the land we live on. This world is our own universe, and we are the stars.
Freeman, David. “Speed Of Light Experiment Confirms Einstein's Theory.” The Huffington Post. >.
“Origins of the Universe.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.
Overbye, Dennis. “From Kepler Data, Astronomers Find Galaxy Filled With More but Smaller Worlds.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.