It’s pretty amazing to be outside on a sunny day. The warm sun, a gentle breeze, the sounds of life all about you. To just consider for a moment the way that we are all connected within Earth’s biosphere, how that breeze has blown thousands of miles, how the life all about you is exploiting the same air you are breathing is incredible. When you consider the tree of life and the story of Darwinian evolution the inter-connectedness of it all becomes breathtaking.
But the experience goes beyond even this. Stand outside for an hour and consider this…
The warmth you feel from the Sun and the light you see around you has taken 8 minutes to cross the gulf of space from the Sun’s surface, but the photons of light may have taken 30,000 years to travel to the surface from the core of the sun where they were first produced.
While you feel that warmth our Sun is also bombarding you with neutrinos, which have come directly from its interior and at any moment billions upon billions of them are passing through your body every second, without ever interacting.
Then there is gravity. We all take Earth’s for granted, but so much more is going on around you. The moon helps raise the water to create the tides but it is also lifting the ground you are standing on. As the moon passes over-head the ground you are standing on can rise by a few centimetres.
What about Jupiter? That bright point of light in the sky, so tiny, so far away. But it’s gravity is having an effect none-the-less and when Jupiter is high above us it is making things a little bit ‘lighter’, you are being minutely affected by Jupiter’s immense and distant gravity.
Then there is the dust. While you have stood for an hour contemplating the invisible reach of particles and gravity look at your clothes and consider the dust that has settled on it while you have stood there. At least one particle does not have a terrestrial origin.
You were just hit by a meteorite.
Information also sourced from An Introduction to the Solar System, Rothery et al, OU Press. 2011