Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Bit of Perspective for Another Hellacious Day in America

That government institution with nine members shall remain nameless here today. Instead, this from, relaying a description by Peter Brannen from his recent book The Ends of the World. Here's what happened when that meteorite hit the Yucatan 66 million years ago:

[It was a] rock larger than Mount Everest [that] hit planet Earth traveling twenty times faster than a bullet. This is so fast that it would have traversed the distance from the cruising altitude of a 747 to the ground in 0.3 seconds. The asteroid itself was so large that, even at the moment of impact, the top of it might have still towered more than a mile above the cruising altitude of a 747. In its nearly instantaneous descent, it compressed the air below it so violently that it briefly became several times hotter than the surface of the sun....

Unlike the typical Hollywood CGI depictions of asteroid impacts, where an extraterrestrial charcoal briquette gently smolders across the sky, in the Yucatan it would have been a pleasant day one second and the world was already over by the next.

As the asteroid collided with the earth, in the sky above it where there should have been air, the rock had punched a hole of outer space vacuum in the atmosphere. As the heavens rushed in to close this hole, enormous volumes of earth were expelled into orbit and beyond — all within a second or two of impact.

“So there’s probably little bits of dinosaur bone up on the moon,” I asked.

“Yeah, probably.”
Well then.

In some ways it makes me feel better, since — as Johann Hari writes in Lost Connections — when we realize how gargantuan the world and the universe are, we realize our "concerns are very small, and the world is very big — and that sensation can shrink the ego down to a manageable size” and since “Becoming depressed or anxious is a process of becoming a prisoner of your own ego,” that deflation can have a positive effect.

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

The new Nancy was thinking about the vastness of things this weekend.

I am really hoping that my finitude will include many years minus Donald Trump and what he stands for — or stoops to.