Quite Enough?

August 1, 2008 at 11:01 pm | Posted in Humor, Science, Space | 5 Comments

Eric Idle of Monty Python fame sings on the scale of things.

“...So remember when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth..

The stats he uses have various scales. Here’s some using the same scale to make it easier to compare. Updated a bit too.

1) The earth is rotating at just over 1,600 km per hour at the equator.
(it varies by latitude)
2) The earth is orbiting the sun at 108,000 kph
3) the earth is in a solar wind going at about 1.4 million kph.
4) The solar system is moving towards Lambda Herculis at about 72,000 kph.
5) The solar system is rotating the galactic center at about 780,000 kph
6) The solar system is moving up off of the galactic plane at about 25,000 kph
7) Our galaxy is moving through space at approximately 2 million kph
All of this is happening at the same time.

It’s also worth noting a few other points.

In the general sense, the absolute speed of any object through space is not a meaningful question according to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which declares that there is no “preferred” inertial frame of reference in space with which to compare … motion. (Motion must always be specified with respect to another object.)”   From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way

In other words, we can only judge the speed of something by comparing it to something else. As everything else is moving, its all relative. No speed is absolute.

All those pictures and models you’ve seen of the earth and other planets revolving around the sun? They are completely misleading, only a tiny step ahead of the sun orbiting the earth. All of those models assume the sun is sitting still. The sun is moving at about 810,000 kph. The earth is not orbiting, it’s spiraling through space, following the sun. We’re not only matching the suns speed to keep up, but spinning and going around as well. So we’re going even faster…

Thousands of stars stripped from the nearby Sagittarius dwarf galaxy are streaming through our area of the Milky Way galaxy, according to a new view of the local universe constructed by a team of astronomers from the University of Virginia and the University of Massachusetts. “If people had infrared-sensitive eyes, the entrails of Sagittarius would be a prominent fixture sweeping across our sky.
More: http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~mfs4n/sgr/

Some related articles:


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  1. […] tend not to think of space in 3 dimensions. We mostly use 2D models. I spoke about this over on Quite Enough. It really changes our conception of space if we get out of the idea that planets […]


  2. […] with planets orbiting the sun. However, the planets don’t circle the sun as we might assume. The sun is moving through space at about 810,000 kph. We’re actually spirally through space with the sun at high speed. We […]


  3. […] us for a long time. In an article on the subject, WaitbutWhy starts with exploring something of the scale of the universe. Then they go into the odds of life “out there”. “there are 100 Earth-like […]


  4. […] I noted on Quite Enough, “the sun is moving at about 810,000 kph. The earth is not orbiting, it’s spiralling […]


  5. Monty Python did a “Galaxy Song”. Here’s a recent version with Stephen Hawking “singing”


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