The scale of the Universe is far too vast for the human brain to comprehend, but the single best explanation of this scale I have ever read came from journalist George Will in a 2006 column in The Washington Post which I will never forget. Will explained how if each star in the Universe was averaged to be the size of a tiny pinhead, you could fill Miami’s Orange Bowl football stadium to overflowing 3 BILLION TIMES. Yes. 3 BILLION TIMES. And our Sun is merely one of those tiny silver beads. The Universe is not only incomprehensibly huge, it’s also filled with mysteries that we may never fully understand. We are, however, beginning to peel back the layers to a certain degree, and in the past five years we’ve learned more about the Universe than we had ever known throughout the entirety of our civilization’s history.
So of all the powerful knowledge we’ve come to learn about the cosmos, what is the most astounding fact we’ve uncovered to date? TIME magazine recently sat down with renowned astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. In their conversation, deGrasse Tyson was asked the question: “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” His answer is quite simply extraordinary and apart from giving me a case of the goosebumps, it made me slightly misty-eyed. The audio from this interview was then used by filmmaker Max Schlickenmeyer who wove in a series of gorgeous visuals and music to accompany an equally gorgeous explanation, and you can watch the final result below. Could someone pass me the Kleenex, please?
Oh, and by the way: the frozen placeholder image of a sunset you see in the Vimeo window below is not from Earth. It was taken on May 19th, 2005 by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit which captured the stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars late one Martian evening. To learn more about this now famous Martian sunset photograph CLICK HERE. To read Neil deGrasse Tyson’s recent essay entitled “How Space Exploration Can Make America Great Again” be sure to visit The Atlantic.