I spend a lot of time thinking about scale. We all operate on a human-scale. We are easily able to picture distances of inches, feet, and miles, but try picturing a micron or a light year; we live in a world of seconds, hours, and years, not pico seconds or eons. The "official" definition of a "second" is nine billion one hundred ninety two million six hundred thirty one thousand seven hundred seventy periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the grounds state of the caesium 133 atom. Or at least that is what Wikipedia told me - I haven't been able to find any caesium 133 to count the hyperfine level transitions to see if I personally agree with that definition.

We operate on a human scale, but most of the universe exists outside that scale. Some things are too small for us to notice, others move too fast. Some changes occur in the blink of an eye, while others unfold over geological time. We use tools and our reasoning ability to extend our perceptions outside the human scale, but we almost always then "translate" the new information into something that we can more intuitively understand.

But even within our human scale, it is an interesting exercise to explore some of the outer limits of our perceptions.  Find one square foot of ground near the base of a tree and make yourself comfortable.  Spend 60 minutes  and watch one square foot of ground under a tree. It will take some time, but you will begin to notice things. A few bugs will appear; the Sun will move so the shadows will change; your attention will wander and when you bring yourself back, a leaf will have moved outside your little plot of land - you will have no idea how it got there. The exercise of slowing down and looking at a smaller scale than usual will expand your awareness of the rest of the world.

Then grab your coffee and transition back into the normal speed of the world.

Copyright 2019 Hugh F Murray III

Hugh Murray has been exploring connections between individuals, societies, the natural world, and the larger universe since studying the history and philosophy of science in college.  Hugh will be leading the 2019 Camino journey with Nancy.