Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 13.8 billion years ago. There is, as far as we know, nothing. 13.6 billion years ago. A space rapidly expands. A slew of particles scatters across it. A skyline of stars begins to form. 12.9 billion years ago. Gravity brings together matter from across the open cosmic sea to form the first galaxies—islands of vast localized gas and dust and stellar objects held together across gravitational strings. 4.5 billion years ago, a cloud of gas and dust orbits a young star in a quiet region of an ordinary galaxy. It coalesces tighter and tighter, eventually forming a planet. A single planet in a single galaxy amongst incalculable others across the universe. 3.8 billion years ago. Life on this planet begins. 2.6 million years. Tools are made and used by living things. 150 thousand years ago. Language, abstract thinking, and the burgeoning of culture begins. Today. On the scale of one minute, the entire history of modern humanity lasted roughly the last eight ten-thousandths of a second. Put differently, if the entire history of the universe were compressed into one day, modern humanity wouldn’t appear until after the last single second. A blink. And each of our individual lives take place within this second, lasting around four ten-thousandths of that fraction of a fraction of a fraction. And the universe has only just begun. Here we are, within this tiny, infinitesimal moment of time, so tied up with it, with everything we are and everything we do. We think this sliver of something means everything, because to us, it does. But to everything, we mean nothing. When referring to the Pale Blue Dot photo taken by the Voyager 1 space probe, showing Earth from a record distance away, Carl Sagan said: “On [that] everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, . . . every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam . . . Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. . . Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.” One day, you appear on this planet. Soon, the days turn into a flipbook, your life becoming an animated film containing everything you know and care about; everything you fear and dread. But what feels like a film to you, will in fact more like a single frame in an infinite film to everything else. You don’t know how you got here. You don’t know why you are here. You don’t know how any of this really works or where any of it is going. No one does. And before you know it, you won’t be here at all. No one will. Don’t worry. Like the entire history of the universe before you, the entire future of it will be over before you know it as well. If you’re lucky, in let’s say eighty years, you close your eyes for the last time. Your children, grandchildren, friends and family, whatever amount you still have left, if any, attend your funeral. They cry for a little while. Then, they mostly move on. They have to in order to survive themselves. In two hundred years, all direct traces of you are lost. Memories of you—how you looked, talked, and acted, what you did and didn’t do, the distant blur of your story—have all dissolved away with the last person who knew of you. By now, all perceptions of you had become inaccurate distortions and projections anyway, void of any authentic connection. If you did something especially noteworthy during your lifetime, direct traces of you may continue for a little. But not much longer. In 100 thousand years, the twenty-first century is but a strange section in the record of history, occasionally reflected on by individuals that no longer relate to it in any meaningful way. 5 million years. Most of the Earth’s pre-existing species are extinct due to the background extinction rate. They have all been replaced with new species. 1 billion years. There is no life left on Earth. 5.5 billion years. The sun cools and expands, consuming the Earth completely. A once lively planet billions of years old wiped out without a trace—a grand finale of a light show with no ovation. The sun is dead. The Earth is gone. The universe doesn’t notice. There is so much time left. 100 trillion years. The last remaining stars begin to die, fading out and burning up. Their gravesites are marked by the tombstones of newly formed blackholes. The universe becomes an expanding graveyard of the bones of evaporating stars. 1 duodecillion. Black holes swallow all the remaining stray matter of the universe. They will soon be all that remains. We will be here a while. Most of the universe’s lifetime is spent in these demented elderly years. Between one googol and one googolplex. The last massive black hole evaporates. One last explosion of light and energy occurs, closing the final eye of the universe. Time is no longer. Everything that has ever happened has now, in so far as everything is concerned, never happened. The universe returns to nothing, and nothing happens forever. Of course, this is all speculation. The universe could be infinite. It could be cyclical. It could be something else entirely. The story of the universe may have gone and may continue to go nearly an infinite number of different ways—most of which we likely can’t even begin to imagine let alone estimate and predict. What we can know, however, is that somehow we are here apart of that story. Of all the things that could exist, of all the things that never will, for some reason, we are each one of the things that does. While we are here, we will experience things, we will cry, we will laugh, we will hopefully love, we will know what it means to have awoken as an embodied collection of dead particles onto a strange, lushly coated wet rock floating through a vast expanse of energy and matter made from and destine for apparent nothingness. We will worry. We will dread. We will try. We will fail. We will move on. We will die. We will be forgotten. But for now, we are here. In truth, even if we could, to fully take in the profundity of what is going on in every moment would rupture our ability to carry out the everyday. But likewise, not considering the absurdity and insanity of what’s taking place around and through us, at least on occasion, can cause us to easily become submerged into falsity, into mundanity, into misunderstanding, into unnecessary anxiety and stress. While we are here, our lives naturally consume us. But in the end, insignificance consumes all life. And considering this, at least on occasion, can perhaps help us better see and decide what we truly want to be consumed by while we are still here. Because soon, the rest of the universe will continue on indifferently until it all ends—or continues on forever. Regardless, you almost certainly won’t be around for any of it, and it will all be over so, so quickly. Blink. That’s how long the rest of the universe will feel.