The Tiny Humanity Bubble

Posted on by Adam Grossman

Mankind has been broadcasting radio waves into deep space for about a hundred years now — since the days of Marconi.

That, of course, means there is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across.

But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?

To answer that question, I put together the following diagram of our galaxy with the "Humanity Bubble" embedded within it. You’ll need to click on it to get the full resolution image and zoom in on the highlighted region.

This makes me feel small, sad, and alone.

Hold me.


In response to my depression over the smallness of our presence, johnohara on the Hacker News thread says:

[That is] One man’s opinion.
For me, I am grateful I live in a time when I can use a human invention to view images, taken by another human invention, of galaxies 13.5 billion light years away that probably no longer exist and be educated enough to sit down and calculate in terms of miles just how far those specks of light have traveled. Aristotle, Caesar, DaVinci, Newton, Kepler, Napoleon, Faraday and Einstein never saw what I have seen from my desktop. Sad? No. Privileged.

thasc, in the comments below, concurs:

For a tiny, young little species, that’s one heck of a lot of ground covered! We actually register as visible on a relatively low-res image of the Galaxy! Go us!


(p.s. Since we’re inside the Milky Way, obviously we cannot take photographs of it. This is an artistic rendering of what it might look like, which I stole from Wikipedia. The artist is Nick Risinger.)