From Chet Raymo, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Stonehill College, North Easton, MA 02357.

These were taken from the Am. J. Phys. (1998) 66: 753.

  1. The world is big. With our best telescopes we observe a universe of tens of billions of galaxies. Each galaxy consists of hundreds of billions of stars. Most of those stars probably have planet systems. Our Earth is a typical planet of a typical star in a typical corner of a typical galaxy.
  2. The world is old. Human time is not cosmic time. If a year is represented by the thickness of a playing card, all of recorded human history would be a pile of cards about 10 feet high. the age of the universe is about 15 billion years; lay this pile of cards on its side and it would reach from New York to San Francisco.
  3. The world is made of atoms. Nature's construction set is astonishingly simple - protons, neutrons, electrons. OF these, nature makes 92 kinds of atoms, and these combine into molecules. Out of simplicity comes complexity - the clear liquidity of water, the smell of bananas, the blue of the sky. A molecule called DNA determines your species, your gender, the color of your eyes.
  4. The world evolves. This history of the universe is grand unfolding of matter and form from a seed of pure energy. Stars, planets, and life have histories, determined by law and contingency - life and death, building up and tearing down, beauty and terror. Everything alive on the planet Earth today is related by common descent from primordial ancestors.
  5. Everything is connected. Our bodies are made of stardust - atoms forged in earlier generations of stars as they lived and died. Stars, planets, plants, animals, rocks, soil, sea, and atmosphere are interrelated in a fabric of wondrous refinement and resilience. We disrupt the fabric at our peril.
  6. The world is wonderful. The more we learn about the form and function of the world, the more we realize the depth of our ignorance, and the more we appreciate the creation as a source of wonder, awe, reverence, praise - or as revelation of a power worthy of our wonder, awe, reverence, praise.