Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Loser Ponders the Sun

approaching commuter train
It is big. And it burns, emitting an enormous amount of energy that powers the conversion of dirt into edible plants, making the Loser's life possible.
It makes him miserable. Bright light, warmth, bringing people together in young groups of tanned skin and firm muscle, groups that exclude him and his deformity. Through his teens his oldest brother nagged him to sit in the sun more. Yet the Loser made no mention of this when this brother developed melanoma which is, thankfully, cured.
Basic science still intrigues the Loser. He wonders how normal it is for a 50-year-old to lie in bed contemplating the planets, infinity.
A thing he could not find the answer to is this: Everyone knows the approximate relative proportions of the Sun and the Earth—one often heard is a basketball compared to a pea—yet how far apart would that basketball and pea be, if put to scale? It took some searching, but he found an answer.
Picture the Sun a ball with the diameter of a quarter hovering in your room right now. The Earth would be the size of a period on this screen and be about nine feet from it. Every day that tiny speck would rotate once and move about 1/365th around the ball. Doesn't sound fast, but if memory serves the Loser the Earth moves about 19 miles a second. Stay out of its way!

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