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The Sun is Down

Posted on Saturday 28 July 2007

The Sun is Down
(not a real picture)
I had the nastiest sense of vertigo and perspective the other day.

Anyone afraid of heights? I for one am not a big fan of falling off a 40 story building.

What’s holding us to the earth? Gravity, right? Well the sun’s force of gravity is much much stronger. So shouldn’t the sun be down?

My brain started to leak a little when I was able to conceptualize this. I mean we all know the earth orbits the sun, but our sense of down isn’t oriented to this apparently moving small object in the sky.

What did it for me was seeing a sunset where the sun was particularly large and menacing, for me to realize how big it was. The sun is down, and we are on the brink of a very, very long fall. Suddenly I was much more appreciative of Earth’s weak gravitational field holding me to the ground, and its orbit keeping us a safe distance away, though I still felt like I was hanging from the front of a thousand foot roller coaster. If you were to escape the earth’s gravity and orbit, you would have one very long, hot, violent fall ahead of you.

Try to picture yourself standing in the picture above. Sure, you’re standing on the ground, but if you were to lift your feet towards the sun, can’t you kind of picture yourself falling millions of miles to the surface of the sun if it weren’t for the earth and its orbit?

I half jokingly propose we rename the directions local up, local down, local left, local right, local forward and local backward. What do you say?

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