Can you imagine

My wife and I have had this discussion, many times. And I thought this might be a good place to ask.

I modeled a trillion pennies one time (file available upon request).

Other than “Wow, it’s huge”. Can a human mind conceive how vast the universe is? I don’t care, Einstein, Hawking, Sagan, Tyson…

At 5,878,625,373,183.6 miles per year (light year), and the universe might be 13 billion years old…it’s fairly large.


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The question is: do aliens use SketchUp?


@Eduardo They must have, how do you think the pyramids got built!

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Sorry, I don’t understand the question. Is it just: do you have comments on how big and old the universe is? If so, I’d say it was pretty old but not as old as the question “How do women tick?” And as for size, I’d say it is even bigger than the Trump’s head, especially as we are now told there may be multiverses (and that has nothing to do with the Rime of the Ancient Mariner).

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If you tick ‘hide rest of model’ in Model Info it is much easier to deal with and with these vast distances you are probably experiencing a high level of ‘clipping’ ?
Reset your camera from parallel will lead to other perspectives or (field of) view…


People know the size of the observable universe (93 billion light years), but the actual size of the universe is unknown. So no, we can’t know the size of the universe if it’s unknown, but maybe some genius will figure it out eventually.

In terms of remembering the details of the universe, the brain’s capacity is supposedly somewhere around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes) and the brain processes about 34 gigabytes per day, so I think that’d probably be the limit. Although, humans will probably evolve or unlock their hidden potential as long as we survive.

P.S. It’s pretty crazy that the human brain has about 2,000x more memory than the average computer, considering we could’ve been the product of abiogenesis (or non-intelligent design). But the origins of life are still scientifically unknown, just like the size of the universe.

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I was a physics major. Large numbers can be impossible to grasp, but I love efforts like yours to try and visualize or grasp such things. Charles and Ray Eames did their film Powers of Ten in such an effort. When it comes to visualizing numbers, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Yale professor, Edward Tufte is an inspirational work.

Not only is the size of the universe a large thing that’s hard to grasp, but as you look out at it, your’e also looking back in time. You can’t see here back then and you can’t see out there “now”, so that makes it even more difficult to grasp than just sheer size.


I do love the responses. And the idea that they are varied.

Which is why I asked it in this forum.

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Don’t worry, we are just the scaled up component part of the Universal Dave Method that the mice are using to reconstruct everything, we’ll be deleted once the editing is sorted out and become tiny again. But don’t mind me, I have to go feed Schrödinger’s cat now, or do I?


@Box You might as well feed the cat, there’s a 50/50 chance it will eat.


Actually, if the cat is a normal cat I think the chance is 25%, as a dead or nonexistent cat won’t eat anyway. With my cat the chance would be very near the 50%.

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@Anssi If the paradox had been called “Schrödinger’s dog”, it would probably eat 75% of the time. :slight_smile:

@RTCool, Thank’s for reminding me of that “Powers of Ten” clip. I’d seen it years ago and was fascinated by it.

I briefly looked at Tufte’s work and if had the extra funds I’d have bought them.

I’ve been an information junky my entire life. My friends have often chided me that if I’d have focused on fewer things…

I’m sort of the epitome of that Thomas Henry Huxley quote " Try to learn something about everything and everything about something". Unfortunately, I’ve failed on the “everything about something” portion.

But I digress, my question was rhetorical.

And I definitely get your reference to time, who can fathom that either? When the average experience is let’s say 70 years, how the heck can you begin to conceive 3.5 billion years? But I am pretty sure with a few billion years a device like an eye can evolve.

Yes you do. Twice.

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with the ‘Mind’s Limit Found: 4 Things at Once’ this appears to be a pretty big number 8-]

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So could that be construed as a “point of singularity”?

Again I might remind everyone, this was a rhetorical query. The math is easy (OK, not all that easy), the idea of conceiving the distances and time frame, not so easy either.

Our human experience does not provide us with the tools to do this.

I’ve spent many, many nights looking at the stars, and the best I could come up with was “wow, it’s big”.

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A trillion dollars would be 31,700 years, longer than recorded history by 5X. So a trillion dollar deficit is a lot of money.

To put a visual to it consider a stack of 100 x $100 bills = $10,000 (about half an inch thick):

Take 100 of these stacks or 100 x $10,000 = $1,000,000:

You can probably fit it into a large briefcase.

Now to get to 1 billion dollars we need to multiply that amount by 1000, so imagine 1000 of those brief cases filled with $1,000,000 each, or we could just throw them onto 10 pallets like so:

A trillion dollars is 1 billion multiplied by 1000 so just imagine that truckload of money times a thousand:

That’s like a Walmart Superstore full of 100 bills piled 6 or 7 feet deep.


I’m sure there is a reference to some similar observation in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But I can’t be bothered to find it.


I have also failed miserably in the “everything about everything” category.