Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey-An Incorrect Feeling of Insignificance


by Brandon Uhler

Yesterday, Sunday the 9th of March, was the “World Premiere” of ‘Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey.’ I could not tell you how excited I was about this show coming back. A show about the universe? Let’s fire that beast up. As I was watching, I found myself in a trance, being hypnotized by the stunning galactic visuals that Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson fearlessly piloted through in his chrome spaceship, which reminded me of a giant paperclip for some odd reason. He took us on a journey through space and time, giving us a brief history of literally everything. How’s that for a tag line? (You can say lousy, it won’t hurt my feelings.) However, as the episode was coming to a conclusion, I found myself wondering what other people would think about this episode, or if they were unfamiliar with the show, would they find this enjoyable. You see, Dr. Carl Sagan made thinking about the Cosmos popular. He was not the first to do it of course, but like many things, it usually takes someone a while to popularize something. One thing that people started to think about as a result is how truly small we are in comparison to the universe, and the Cosmos in its entirety. It led me to ask the question “Is this show going to make people feel insignificant?”

Before we reach a conclusion, which is essentially just my opinion, let’s recap this episode that aired Sunday. We were introduced, or I guess I should say re-introduced, to Earth, our home. The introduction was a clever mechanism that relied on the fact that if we were mailing a letter that is unlimited in its destination in the Cosmos, we would need a complete address of our location. As the episode progressed, we continued to add information to the address lines. It eventually read, “Earth, The Solar System, The Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, etc.” In addition to the size conceptualization, the episode also went on to remind us how young human life is relative to the galactic timeline of roughly 14 billion years. The final piece of the episode compressed the entire galactic life to a calendar year, and in doing so we saw that humans didn’t come around until the last few seconds before New Year’s came around. This is a lot to take in if this thought experiment is brand new to you, and that’s completely understandable. It would be strange if this didn’t make you feel small. However, coming back to the original question posed; does this make you feel insignificant? The straight answer is obviously yes, it does. In the grand scheme of things, in comparison to the Cosmos in its entirety, we are pretty much smaller than atoms. Although it might make you feel insignificant, should your life change in any way by realizing just how small we are?

Yes. Of course it should. But this should not be at all a depressing outlook on life. This shouldn’t make you feel insignificant, you should feel excited about just how much there is out there to explore. Everyday people are coming up with new ways to see further and travel further. Discovery is what changes our lives for the better and discovery is what keeps us motivated to wake up every day and just be excited about life and all it can offer us. Not only that, but every moment that passes is another moment where the light of the new edge of the universe reaches us and thus the “boundaries” of life expand just a little more. These are exciting times we live in and they will only get more exciting as we discover more and more. So don’t feel insignificant. Instead, get excited about how much more about life has yet to be, and will be, discovered. Just like our old friend Buzz Lightyear said, “To infinite, and beyond.” Life lessons from a kids movie, gets you every time. Right in the feels.

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