The cleverly insightful animated video series Kurzgesagt offers an existential lesson in cosmic humility while looking at how humans move through an enormous universe.
In a nutshell, the universe is a big bag of space that has things in it. If someone removed all these things, the stars and planets and black holes and dust, there would just be empty space left. In empty space, the concept of having a position loses all meaning. Empty space is uniform, the same everywhere.
They begin with the personal universe of a single individual and then incrementally zoom out from there, noting the spatial and directional relationships as defined by humanity, the curve of the Earth, its orbit around the sun, and the orbit of the solar system around the galactic plane.
‘Down’ is an illusion of your reference frame. To earth’s reference frame, gravity just pulls in. But for humans, there is an up and down because within our frame of reference that just makes sense. This is also why we think that the planet itself has an up and down, north and south.
This entire lesson puts into perspective the relative importance that humanity has in comparison to the vast enormity of the universe while acknowledging the importance of each life.
Let’s look at your relative position again. On a planet, tilted towards the sun, jiggled around by the moon. In a solar system tilted towards the galactic plane, moving forward in a helical shape, diving up and down through the plane. …Let us make the journey backwards again. From the indescribably large, to the really large, to our galactic home, to our galaxy, to the solar system diving up and down through the milky way, to the jiggle of existence. And finally, back to you, right now, watching this video. If this is all a bit much, don’t feel bad.
They also acknowledge how overwhelming this universal view can be.
The scale of the universe is brain crushing and trying to keep track of how everything is oriented or decide where the best up and down is hard. But it doesn’t really matter. Because it doesn’t change where you are. You’re already in the best spot you could possibly be – right here, right now