Tiny humans, big universe: How to balance anxiety and wonder in astrophysics

The universe is a huge place, inconceivably vast. And it can make even the most brilliant minds feel very, very small.

The universe is a huge place, inconceivably vast. And it can make even the most brilliant minds feel very, very small. Yet NASA's very own Michelle Thaller thinks that we can use this to our advantage, by finding "that balance between being part of everything, and being so brief, or almost nothing." You can follow Michelle on Twitter here.

This is the damage a tiny speck of space debris can do at 15,000mph

Space is not the place to put waste, as it turns pretty much anything into a high-velocity projectile capable of causing incredible damage. 

Gravity, 2013

If you'll excuse the analogy, the immediate surroundings in space are kind of like Brooklyn. It's becoming increasingly crowded, expensive, and ultimately full of things that shouldn't be there in the first place. Unlike Brooklyn, however, space is full of space debris: small amounts of (basically) trash that humans have gotten in our orbit. The ISS has cataloged about 500,000 of these small pieces and they hurtle around our planet at about 15,000mph. Or 14.17 g-force. Or 24,140kph. 

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