So, I was interested in the really BIG THINGS!
Yeah! Big things, like Geology, the mountains, canyons, and the oceans of planet Earth, and of amphibians and reptiles, and really big things like dinosaurs, and even bigger things as in the science of Astronomy.
And so, I got more and more into Astronomy, a major obsession of mine. I was overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the universe. As a kid, the world seem like a pretty big place to me. I remember how we would go from Duluth Minnesota, which is on the tip of Lake Superior, to Milwaukee Wisconsin to see Grandma, and it was a journey of about 300 miles. So, traveling at an average speed of about 70 miles per hour, it should have taken about four and a half hours to get there. But then, having to stop for gas, and having to stop to eat at a restaurant, and for restroom breaks, the trip usually took about six hours.
Well, the earth is about 7,920 miles in diameter and about 24,868 (I'm using round numbers) miles in circumference. So, if there was a tunnel through the earth, and if we could drive through the 7,920 mile tunnel at a steady speed of 70 miles per hour without stopping for gas, or lunch, or restroom breaks, it would take about 113 hours, or 4.7 days to drive through the tunnel. And if we were to drive around the earth's equator, a journey of 24,868 miles at 70 miles per hour, it would take a little bit more than 352 and a half hours, or almost 14.7 days, just over two weeks to complete the journey.
Of course, we can't drill a tunnel through the earth, and we can't drive a car around the earth's equator. I'm just using this example to demonstrate how big the earth is and to get a feeling for its size. This is only just an illustration of how long it would take to drive all those miles.
So, to me, when I was just a kid, the earth seemed like a pretty big ball.
I became more curious about the world, and before I got into Astronomy, I was into Geography. I had a globe of the earth, and I loved to collect maps. When our family went on trips, every time we stopped at a gas station, I just had to collect road maps. This was back in the 1960s when you could get lots of road maps free from any gas station, and so, during our family trips, the car would get cluttered with lots and lots and lots of road maps! Thanks to me!!!
Then, I wanted to know what was inside the earth, and what was at the bottoms of the oceans, so I started reading books on Geology, and books about the oceans. I learned that the highest mountain on the earth is Mount Everest, who's summit is 29,035 feet above sea level or almost 5 and a half miles tall.
Now, if Olympus Mons were on the earth, instead of on Mars, the top of the mountain would be way up there at 73,920 feet above sea level where the atmosphere is so thin that you would almost need a space suit to just climb to the top of the mountain. There would be no breathable oxygen at that height.
A typical commercial passenger jet plane flies at about 350 miles per hour and at a maximum altitude of 32,000 feet. I suppose they could fly higher, but then, that would be up there in military air space, so, civilian passenger jets are confined to altitudes of no more than 32,000 feet. A commercial jet liner would never be able to fly over the top of Olympus Mons. It would have to fly several hundred miles out of the way to get around the base of the mountain. Olympus Mons is more than twice the height that commercial jet liners are able to fly. You would need a rocket plane instead of a jet plane.
Yeah! That's one great big fat volcanic mountain alright! Then there is the largest canyon on Mars, named Valles Marineris, often referred to as "The Grand Canyon of Mars"! It is about 2,500 miles long, about 125 miles wide, and 4 miles, or 21,120 feet deep! It is the largest canyon on any planet in the solar system!
And now, on to even bigger and fatter, super morbidly obese, giant elliptical galaxies!
And so . . . space itself is growing bigger and fatter.
Oh yes indeed! It's a really great big fat universe out there!