Earth in Context

To This Day! Movies Luck and Circumstance Songs Silliness Impermanence Me In Time History Your Life, a Story Earth in Context Mist Death More Intimate

There’s a lot on this website to help our readers ‘zoom out’, so to speak:
Enablers like The Power of Perspective, or pages like the one on Time.

Have you ever looked up at the sky and felt small? Ever gazed at a mountain in the distance and felt your problem shrink a bit?

It’s difficult enough to wrap our heads around just how big the earth is. But, putting the earth in a larger cosmological context is an even greater feat of humility.

This page is an homage to the cosmos itself as a means of context in our own life.
Believe it or not, your life is not the only one happening on this big rock. In fact, it is only one among many happening RIGHT NOW.

And when we consider how many other lives have happened on this planet already, it can give us a stronger sense of belonging; even a sense of ease around the existential challenges we face during life. And to think, the human species isn’t even the big story of our planet. We’ve only been around for the last .004 percent of the lifetime of the planet!

Videos

Cosmic Scale

Powers of Ten
Here is the reality we all live in. This video shows the actual scale of the existence we are a part of. It can be easy to forget how big the universe is.

Another Powers of Ten
Another brilliant rendition, showing us the true scale of the earth, our lives, and everything we know.

Astronaut Roundtable
A roundtable of astronauts discuss the psychological effect of seeing the planet from space: no borders, all one.

Animaniacs – Yakko’s Universe
Yakko sings a song about the relative vastness of space from one person to the entire universe.

“The internal engines of plate tectonics are indifferent to life.”
This video from the new Cosmos shows Earth’s timescale…way bigger than that of us humans.

The Cosmic Calendar
This “Cosmic Calendar” from Neil Degrasse Tyson’s new Cosmos shows the timescale of the universe depicted as one earth year. You will be astounded if you’ve never seen it before.

A classic must-see from Carl Sagan.
“That’s Here. That’s Home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, everyone who ever was, lived out their lives.”

Physics

The Standard Model: The Most Successful Scientific Theory Ever
It describes how everything in the universe is made of 12 different types of matter particles, interacting with three forces, all bound together by a rather special particle called the Higgs boson. It’s the pinnacle of 400 years of science and gives the correct answer to hundreds of thousands of experiments.

Did Time Start at the Big Bang?
Our universe started with the big bang. But only for the right definition of “our universe”. And of “started” for that matter. Here is a second related video. These videos and more can be found on PBS Space Time.

Earth in Detail

Earth From Space
One hour of 4k video of Earth from space.

The Indian Ocean in 4k, over a few days.

ISS Footage
A collection of some of the best footage from the International Space Station.

Life on Earth

The oldest living things in the world.
“This tree was a sapling during the Mayan empire, and is still living today.”

Life After People
What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our industrialized world would survive?

Life In Space

The Fermi Paradox I
Where Are All The Aliens? – from Kurzgesagt

The Fermi Paradox II
Solutions and Ideas – Where Are All The Aliens?

Waiting For You
A poetic homage to the Voyager spacecraft and our (so far) lonely place in the Universe.

Articles

Physics Ponderings

Websites

  • 100,000 Stars – An interactive webpage showing our local corner of the galaxy.
  • The Overview Institute – “From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.”

More

  • “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov – (Short Story) – Quickly read this short story on this site for a fun look into an accelerating expansion of technology and galactic consciousness.
  • Reimagining the Cosmos with Brian Green(Podcast Episode) Enjoy this compelling interview from the OnBeing Podcast.
  • Niel Degrasse Tyson’s Startalk – (Youtube Channel) – The classic podcast has a wonderful accompanying youtube channel offering highlights.
  • Astrum – (Youtube Channel) – How big is the Solar System? What actually orbits our Sun? Why should I even be interested in space? This channel answers these and a whole host of other questions.
  • Universe in a Nutshell – (App) – The range of size in the universe, from the tiniest particles to the epic galaxies – we take you on a journey of size that lets you explore it all with a single swipe. How big is a planet, compared to a human? And how small is an atom really? You can’t fully wrap your head around the scope of things by just reading about them – so this app lets you experience them in comparison to get a feeling for their true scale.
  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth – (Movie) – A precocious 7-year-old who, over the course of Earth Day, learns about the wonders of the planet from his parents and from a mysterious exhibit at the aptly titled Museum of Everything.

Tools and Collections

Streams

If you only watch a couple of the below streams, we recommend Cosmos (the new OR the old) and Human Universe.

Amazon: The Universe

  • Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson – A 13-part adventure across the universe of space and time, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airs Sundays at 9/8c on FOX and Mondays at 9/8c on the National Geographic Channel. Based on the original series from Carl Sagan, which can now be found on youtube.
  • How the Universe Works – Journey deep into space and examine the moons, planets and stars that make up the cosmos. First 2 seasons here. Recommended episodes: 3-8.
  • Space’s Deepest Secrets – From the New Horizons mission that saw Pluto for the first time to the Mars rovers, a new breed of explorers are risking their careers, and even their lives, to lead humanity to worlds we have never seen.
  • Through the Wormhole – Hosted by Morgan Freeman, this show explores the deepest mysteries of existence – the questions that have puzzled mankind for eternity: Who-or what-am I? Are we alone? How did this begin? Recommended episodes: 1, 2
  • Strip the Cosmos – explores the hidden secrets of black holes, the sun, asteroids, comets, Mars and alien worlds by stripping them of their gas, force-fields, rocks, and magma, layer by layer, in stunning CGI animation.
  • Wonders of the Universe Collection – Journey into the depths of the universe using the latest deep-space technology and imagery. Recommended episodes: 1, 3
  • Known Universe – Travel through the universe to explore the really big questions. Is there life on other planets? Just how big was the Big Bang? What would traveling at “warp speed” really look like?
  • The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries – What do scientists know about the universe? What still remains to be uncovered? What are some of the next avenues of exploration? Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson’s course The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries is a marvelous journey to the frontiers of the known (and unknown) universe and introduces you to tantalizing questions being addressed by the world’s top scientists. Recommended episodes: 2, 5

Other Streams:

  • Cosmos: Possible Worlds – (Disney+) – Following the wildly successful “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” Neil deGrasse Tyson returns as host to translate more revelations of science into a lavish transporting experience, taking audiences on a series of spiritual voyages of exploration.
  • Alien Worlds – (Netflix) – Applying the laws of life on Earth to the rest of the galaxy, this series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets.
  • Life From Above – (PBS) – Behold Earth as it’s never been seen before. Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand-new perspective, revealing its incredible movements, colors, patterns and just how fast it’s changing.
  • The Most Unknown – (Netflix) – Traversing disciplines from physics to psychology, nine scientists share ideas and seek common ground by delving into deep existential questions.
  • Our Planet – (Netflix) – There are many incredible nature documentaries on Netflix and beyond (thanks, David Attenborough!), but this is the one we MOST recommend.
  • Life After People – (History) – A TV show in which scientists speculate on what would become of the earth if humans instantly disappeared.

Amazon: Life on Earth

  • Human Universe – Professor Brian Cox explores the most precious, most wonderful thing in the universe, us.
  • One Strange Rock – Hosted by Will Smith, this show reveals the twists of fate that allow life to thrive on Earth

Books

If You Come to Earth – a glorious guide to our home planet, and a call for us to take care of both Earth and each other.

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light – A deeply panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left. Here is a TED talk by the author.

The Oldest Living Things in the World – This book will help you feel like a short-lived fly among trees.

The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars – An historically unprecedented disconnect between humanity and the heavens has opened. Jo Marchant’s book can begin to heal it.

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe – The first three editions of NightWatch sold more than 600,000 copies, making it the top-selling stargazing guide in the world for the last 20 years. The key feature of this classic title is the section of star charts that are cherished by backyard astronomers everywhere.

Overview: A New Perspective of Earth – A stunning and unique collection of satellite images of Earth that offer an unexpected look at humanity, derived from the wildly popular Daily Overview Instagram account.

To This Day! Movies Luck and Circumstance Songs Silliness Impermanence Me In Time History Your Life, a Story Earth in Context Mist Death More Intimate