Person Deconstructs The Size Of The Universe So Well, It Makes People Question If Their Existence Even Matters Interview With Author
If you’re anything like me, you can spend hours daydreaming and pondering questions about this and that. Like why the sky is blue, why chocolate tastes like, well, chocolate, and how big the universe is. As it turns out, the universe is far, far bigger than you think. And our imaginations don’t always do it justice.
Luckily, Krister Sundelin, an e-learning producer from Gothenburg in Sweden, gave us all a helping hand. He deconstructed the size of the universe in an easily understandable way on Quora, in response to a user’s question about what fact about the universe’s size blows people’s minds.
Krister’s answer made quite a few of us feel very small (and a wee bit insignificant, too!). The vastness of the universe is a frightening thing, but personally, realizing this can make us appreciate every moment, and make every interaction and experience feel special. Check out Krister’s full Quora answer below, dear Pandas. When you’re done, let us know how you felt after absorbing all the information.
Scientists currently believe that the universe is around 93 billion light-years in diameter. The BBC notes that, in comparison, our galaxy, the Milky Way, is between 100k and 150k light-years across.
Krister was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. “As Douglas Adams said, ‘Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.’ It is simply too big. And I think the reason is biological,” he told Bored Panda why people tend to have problems imagining the size of the universe. “We’ve evolved to perceive stuff on the scale from the width of a hair to the distance to the horizon. To survive on the savanna, we don’t need to perceive stuff outside that scale, and it would likely just be a waste of energy. So evolution got rid of it or never evolved it.” Read on for the rest of Krister’s fascinating insights, Pandas!
Krister, from Sweden, deconstructed just how huge the universe really is in an approachable and witty answer on Quora
Image credits: stellarium
Image credits: Wikimedia
Image credits: worldhistory.org
Image credits: Wikimedia
Image credits: eventhorizontelescope.org
Image credits: Krister Sundelin
Image credits: Krister Sundelin
According to Krister, we turned to analogies and maths to help us imagine the scale of things beyond the scale of our imagination. “The fact that we can train our brains to make sense of it is still rather amazing, and is a testimony to the evolutionary strength of a generalized brain,” he shared with Bored Panda. “Which is a bit boring in a way—science fiction was more entertaining when we didn’t know how big space was, and you could travel to another galaxy over the weekend. I guess that is one reason that I am so fond of Doctor Who—the writers don’t give a flying fox about distances in space. Or time.”
I was curious to find out how Krister feels about the vastness of the universe and whether it makes him feel insignificant or quite the opposite, as though every moment matters even more.
“I will cheat a bit and say that the vastness of the universe both makes me feel insignificant, while at the same time I feel connected. On one hand, you have Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, which really shows how all the things we think are so important actually are not. On the other hand, when I look at the stars, I am literally poked in my eyes by them. A little packet of energy has been sent by a distant star across vast oceans of space and time just to hit my retina, highlighting another favorite Sagan quote, that we are the universe made manifest in order to observe and understand itself. It is a very humbling and overwhelming experience, but also exhilarating and inspiring,” he revealed his perspective. It’s a point of view that I’m definitely familiar with and, I’ll bet, some of you Readers are, too.
Finally, I wanted to get Krister’s take on Quora as a platform for learning and education. He praised the community and its willingness to teach others. “The one thing that makes me stay on Quora is the same thing that makes it so well-suited for learning: it is a wonderful community of intelligent people who want to educate people just because they have the knowledge and the will to teach. Also, the ability to not participate in discussions is great—you can disable comments, block people rather than shout back, delete rude and abusive comments to your answers, etc. Be Nice, Be Respectful is a great policy, and a huge advantage for Quora compared to other platforms,” Krister explained to Bored Panda exactly why Quora has an advantage.
However, not everything is perfect. Like all platforms, Quora has its various drawbacks. “Like the search function, that Suggest Edit was removed, and the current focus on driving revenue and increase membership,” Krister listed. “I understand the latter, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. And, of course, like all user-generated content, there is no guarantee that one answer is more truthful than any other. One indication is the number of upvotes, but that only tells you that the answer is well-liked, not necessarily true.”
Internet users shared their own thoughts about the vastness of the universe
Others tried explaining how the size of the universe makes them feel
Krister is a polymath who has done a bit of everything in life: he’s an e-learning producer, while previously he’s worked as a copywriter (hurrah!), web developer, game designer, and even a teacher.
“Born in 1970, I have survived disco, punk, prog, metal, synth, goth, and pop. I like food and chocolate too much, and I get hiccups from whisky (even if I like it a lot). I’m also introverted like heck,” the Swedish expert writes on their Quora profile.
Krister is a powerhouse on Quora. He’s active in 21 spaces and has had a whopping 48.6 million content views since joining the platform in May 2014. Last month alone, his content had 2.2 million views. This just goes to show that the Swede’s insights are spot-on!
In one of his essays, Krister notes that scientists believe that the universe has existed for 13.8 billion years since the event that started it all—the Big Bang. Krister also notes that there was a period of inflation at the earliest moments of the universe’s existence.
What’s more, he noted that researchers believe that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Something else that Krister notes is that the universe “weighs too much,” at least compared to how much we believe it should.
“There seems to be some mass there that we can only detect through its gravitational influence, and there’s a lot of it: five times more than regular observable matter. We have dubbed it ‘dark matter’ as a placeholder name: ‘dark’ because we can’t observe it directly, and ‘matter’ because whatever it is, it has gravity,” he writes.
The universe is a marvelous thing (technically, you could argue that it’s the only thing because it’s the set that contains all the stuff that ever existed or will exist). We can only hope to unravel some of its deeper secrets in the future. It’s people like Krister who help us digest all the new findings and make science approachable for everyone.