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Trinitonian

The Student News Site of Trinity University

Trinitonian

The Student News Site of Trinity University

Trinitonian

Humanity through the lens of the solar eclipse

Humanity+through+the+lens+of+the+solar+eclipse

Astronomical events turn eyes and minds toward forces greater than ourselves. Phenomena like eclipses serve as grandiose reminders of where humanity stands compared to the scale of the universe. As we look to the sky and watch the moon slowly creep in front of the sun, not only are we watching the alignment of our most familiar celestial bodies, but we are given the opportunity to experience our beautiful insignificance.

Relative to the universe, humanity is no more than the smallest blip, but that is hard to imagine with the human experience limited to Earth’s scale. Not only is humanity irrelevant in regards to size, but in time as well. Humans have only existed for 0.007% of Earth’s history. Beyond that, the universe is thought to be around 13.7 billion years old, meaning that all of human history makes up an extremely miniscule fraction of the history of the universe.

During every second of every day, there are cosmic, universal forces at work that humans are not privy to. Stars are born, collide and die. Floating fragments of rock destroy planets. Black holes absorb everything within their reach — even light. The human mind can scarcely begin to comprehend the universe beyond Earth’s blue sky. As far as we have observed, the universe is over 92 billion lightyears spanning in all directions. With new technologies like the James Webb Space Telescope, we are constantly learning about new planets, much like our own, solar systems, stars, galaxies and beyond.

While our existence can be crudely simplified to living on a rock spinning and hurtling through space, that fact does not do justice to humanity’s insignificant greatness. Humans built the pyramids brick by brick, mastered flight, harnessed the energy of atoms and mass destruction. While all of this may not amount to even the smallest ripple in the grand, universal scale of space and time, human curiosity, innovation and achievement are profound on the human scale.

Even though the sheer size of the great beyond is near unimaginable, trying to comprehend the scale allows us to put our own lives into perspective. Relative to the universe, humanity is smaller than a plankton floating in the Pacific Ocean. Still, as Earth is home to plankton, the universe is home to us. There are very few moments where we can experience a sliver of space’s infinite expanse, and the eclipse is one of them. Enjoy it.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Oliver
Rachel Oliver, Managing Editor (fall)
My name is Rachel Oliver (she/her), and I am a junior economics major and urban studies minor. I am the managing editor, and this is my third year working for Trinitonian. Even though it takes up almost all of my free time, there's nothing else I would rather be doing!

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