The Size of the Universe

13 October, 2009

Have you ever thought about the size of the Universe? I mean, not just that it is very very large, but what that means in terms of our everyday experiences. I thus wondered how far the news about Jesus has traveled since he lived. As you will see, it doesn't matter whether we consider when he was born or when he died.

I like to work on my computer, and, of course, I thus spend a lot of time looking at the computer display. The image shown there is composed of little dots called pixels. These dots are so close together that we can't see the individual dots, but they are there. Most computer displays are 1200 pixels across horizontally. Using Google, I found that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is about the same size as its nearest neighbor, Andromeda. We can't take pictures of our galaxy since we are in it, but we can do so with Andromeda, easily visible even with binoculars if you know where to look. Scientists recently concluded that the Milky Way is about the same size as Andromeda, revising previous thoughts that it was smaller. Andromeda is approximately 220,000 light years in diameter. A light year is, of course, the distance light travels in one year.

Imagine that you have a picture of Andromeda on your computer display, and that it fills the screen so that the width of Andromeda's image is the width of your computer display, 1200 pixels. Thus one pixel corresponds to approximately 2000 light years. Maybe you see where I'm going. We don't have to be exact here to get the idea. Jesus lived 2000 years ago and I assume that news about Jesus would travel at the speed of light. That means that the news about Jesus has now traveled one pixel on our computer display! Essentially, the Milky Way, a typical galaxy, just one of countless others, is so big that nobody else (assuming there are others) in the Milky Way, or anywhere else for that matter, has heard of Jesus. That, besides being a big problem for theologians, is physically BIG.