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Getting to the Same Place Along Different Paths:
The Scale of Humanness

Seeing Life in its Proper Perspective
(excerpts)

Last week, Sam, my 4-year-old grandson, went to play with his father in a cluster of bamboo growing near a lake in their neighborhood.

Sam has PDD, a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum. As a result, he often sees things quite differently than other children, and sometimes his perception can be breathtakingly clear. This was the case when, while running through the 25-foot stalks, he turned to his father and said: "Oh, Daddy, look how little we are." Sam's beautiful observation about our true position in nature is often forgotten.

Perhaps we have not forgotten how little we are; perhaps we have become afraid of how little we are. So we pursue power and wealth to help stave off those frightening feelings of smallness. Most gun purchases are about making us feel bigger and safer. So are gated communities. The world has become more frightening, and fear forces us to focus on our own interests.

Imagine how safe and happy this world would be if we could all feel more awe.

Dan Gottlieb, in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Space ...

Humans 1-2 meters 100 meters
Earth 10,000,000 meters 107 meters
The solar system 10,000,000,000 meters 1013 meters
The galaxy lots more zeros1021 meters
Current visible universe  LOTS more zeros1026 meters
The larger objects in the photo (from the Hubble space telescope) above are galaxies. Our solar system is a vanishingly small part of one such galaxy, the Milky Way (not in the picture).

Time ...

Human life span 10's of years 101 years
U.S.A life span 100's of years102 years
Recorded human history 1,000's of years 104 years
Human species ~100,000 years 105years
Solar system and life ~5,000,000,000 years109 years
Current visible universe  >10,000,000,000 years>1010 years
Because light moves at a finite velocity, some of the objects in the picture appear as they were at a time close to the birth of the universe.



As humans, we are all quite small and quite young.

There's lots to explore and discover.

Paul Grobstein, on Serendip





This is one of a projected series of pages illustrating how similar conclusions can be reached by following quite different paths. The notion is that ideas people get to from quite different sets of experiences are likely to be particularly important ideas. If you know of still another way to get to this place, let us know and we'll add your thoughts to this page.

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