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27 Reasons Why Nothing Matters

Having a rough day? Don't worry about it! You're just an atom in a molecule in a grain of sand on a tiny beach on the vast continent of the cosmos! You are small and the universe is indifferent!!!

Posted on September 4, 2012, at 4:39 p.m. ET

So, this is you:

1. This is you from about 30,000 feet. Cruising altitude:

Via Flickr: benjy


2. This is you from 100,000 feet:

Still pretty.

3. Someone jumped out of a balloon from this height, back in 1960:

In this Aug. 16, 1960 photo made available by the U.S. Air Force, Col. Joe Kittinger steps off a balloon-supported gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet. In freefall for 4.5 minutes at speeds up to 614 mph and temperatures as low as -94 degrees Fahrenheit, he opened his parachute at 18,000 feet.

4. This is you from about 200 miles, or more than 10 times the altitude of the highest human jump. This is where the ISS lives:

5. The first man to reach this height, Yuri Gagarin, did it in this tiny sphere:

6. Actually this dog did it first. She died though:

7. Now, this is the Earth from the moon, about 230,000 miles away:

Via http://NASA

8. The farthest a human has ever been from home is 248,655 miles, when the Apollo 13 spacecraft made its risky trip around the dark side of the moon:

Via http://NASA

This was taken by the crew.

Tom knows:

9. And this is Earth from Mars, which is over 30 MILLION miles away. This is the next place humans will go, in theory:

Via Flickr: gsfc

The Apollo missions took about ten days each. A Mars mission would take at least six months, and likely be a one-way trip.

10. The sun looks a lot smaller from there:


11. But during the day, it looks pretty much just like home:


Seems nice!

12. ANYWAY, here is the Earth from roughly where Saturn is. See it?



14. Eh, we're getting pretty far away. Let's zoom in a little:


15. Now let's keep going. This is what Earth looks like as you're leaving the solar system, 3.7 billion miles away. Pluto-ish area:


"From Voyager's great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size."

16. Obviously 3.7 billion miles is really, really far. But you also have to consider that Earth is pretty tiny:

17. Here's what Jupiter would look like from Earth if it were as close as the moon

18. Compared to the Sun, though, even Jupiter looks like a runt

19. Not that the Sun has anything to brag about:

(we're just getting started)



22. But as massive as stars are, they're microscopic compared to galaxies they live in. This is our galaxy, the Milky Way:

23. Oh, by the way, the closest galaxy to ours, which also has billions of stars, is going to slam into us eventually. Here's what NASA thinks it will look like from Earth:


This will happen in four billion years, which seems like a long time. But the Earth did exist four billion years ago, and it might well exist then. This probably wouldn't end well for us, whatever "us" will mean in 4,000,000,2012 AD.

GIF by Ryan

24. So yes, there are millions, billions, and sometimes trillions of stars in each galaxy. But how many galaxies are there? In 2003, NASA pointed the Hubble telescope at a minuscule dark patch in the night sky:

25. They took hundreds of pictures over about three months, for over 11 days' worth of exposure time. They came back with this:

Feeling small yet?

26. In that tiny little dark patch of sky were 10,000+ galaxies, many bigger than our own:


Because of how far away they are, and the speed at which light travels, this photo shows these galaxies as they were over 12 billion years ago. Many of them no longer exist.

27. These are the galaxies we've been able to map so far. It's estimated there are more than 150 billion in our observable universe, the size of which we're still unsure of:

So, in conclusion, you are a speck on a dot on a mote on a speck. Which is terrifying. But also great! So whatever's bothering you?

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.