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Practically Incomprehensible
July 2, 2013 7:59 AM   Subscribe

How big is the ocean? [slyt | TED | via]
posted by quin (26 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Really really really, really, really big.

But take down a globe, in the middle of the ocean make a light scratch, "proportionally" that scratch is deeper than the deepest place on the ocean. We live on a surface that is barely there compared to the material of the actual planet.

[Edit: more really's]
posted by sammyo at 8:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Aqueous B.I.G.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:08 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dammit, sammyo, for the last time, quit scratching my globes!
posted by barnacles at 8:08 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is the Biggest Rock?
posted by neroli at 8:10 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the geekery but there's a potentially dangerous statement in there with regards to biomass. Even if it is true that the ocean has more room to support life, most of it is a virtual desert which is why whales have to migrate around the world in search of their food supply.

In fact most life and almost all the fish we eat is from the thin layer called the epipelagic zone. So, no the ocean is not an endless abundance of sealife.
posted by vacapinta at 8:13 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, looking the other way ...

According to a recently perused National Geographic, it is now believed that the Milky Way galaxy is comprised of more than 100 billion stars, and is itself just one of more than 100 billion galaxies contained in our universe, which may be just one of more than 100 billion universes. Somehow this reassures me.
posted by philip-random at 8:15 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up on the shore of Lake Huron. During summers I spent as much time in the water as I did out of it. I've always been a good swimmer and lakes hold no fear for me.

The ocean? That shit freaks me out. It's bottomless, for all intents and purposes, and who knows what the fuck is in there? A while back I gave myself The Fear by zooming into Google Earth as far as I could and scrolling across the Pacific.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:18 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


A while back I gave myself The Fear by zooming into Google Earth as far as I could and scrolling across the Pacific.

Ha! I did the same thing a few years ago with that ubiquitous photoshopped image of an iceberg with the gigantic lower portion looming in the depths. The massive void can be scary, and you start to understand why Lovecraftian characters might lose their sanity being exposed to the realities of the universe.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:28 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon several years ago. Four days of staring UP into the void. Majestic, awe inspiring and creepy. The crazy part is that from the river, you're only seeing a fraction of what's above you, as it's so immense that the true top of the canyon isn't even visible as it's too far away. That's how damn deep you are. Then four nights of staring UP into the void of crystal clear perfect dark view of the stars and the galaxy.

A pricy but wonderful trip that'll make you feel more like a speck of nothing than maybe anything else will.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:35 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's pretty big. Like, larger than my car.

Trust me; I've checked.
posted by grubi at 8:40 AM on July 2, 2013


"...most of it is a virtual desert..."

With a perfect disguise above...
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:53 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


jeff-o-matic: "A pricy but wonderful trip that'll make you feel more like a speck of nothing than maybe anything else will."

I've felt the same thing sitting on a Pacific atoll at midnight. Nothing but black ocean ahead of me, a full sky of stars above me, and the constant noise of waves.

It's good for you, I think, to have an experience like that (or like yours; or like any that many other people here could testify to) to realize how small you are and how big and long-term everything around you is.

I reckon that it's one of those things, more than just about anything else, that we ought to be trying to share with as many people as possible. Nature is vast and you are not. It's a good sort of humility to be earned once you're face to face with that.
posted by barnacles at 8:59 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Global water and air volume.

It's all about perspective...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


For comparison: The total volume of humanity could fit into a cubical box measuring 1/2 mile on each side, with room to spare! That box wouldn't even show up on the picture I linked to above.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2013


The ocean? That shit freaks me out. It's bottomless, for all intents and purposes, and who knows what the fuck is in there?

Monsters. There are fucking gross monsters that will destroy you in there.
posted by dogwalker at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


... you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's....

This size difference is the one reason why I don't believe that we will ever be masters of the stars ... we are too small to even be masters of the earth .. we are like little kids who haven't even explored the quarter of the playground available and bravely pat each other on the back when one of them is able to run and barely touch the walls of the unknown haunted castle in front.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The total volume of humanity could fit into a cubical box measuring 1/2 mile on each side

I believe I have actually visited that nightclub.
posted by localroger at 9:44 AM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


OTOH, cubical boxes are bigger than you think. That height really multiplies it out, but we tend to think of it in terms of the square footprint.
posted by smackfu at 9:51 AM on July 2, 2013


vacapinta: I appreciate the geekery but there's a potentially dangerous statement in there with regards to biomass. Even if it is true that the ocean has more room to support life, most of it is a virtual desert which is why whales have to migrate around the world in search of their food supply.

In fact most life and almost all the fish we eat is from the thin layer called the epipelagic zone. So, no the ocean is not an endless abundance of sealife.
Your argument holds against an assertion that the ocean contains more volume to support life, but in fact it does have three times the area that land does to support life - and unlike land, essentially 100% of that area can actually support life with adequate water, an encouraging temperature range, and nutrients.

Essentially, the epipelagic zone is a vertically distributed form of a savannah: as much biomass as feasible is supported by the sunlight, which is ultimately the source of energy for almost all life on earth (green plants, things that eat green plants, things that eat things that eat ...).

So, essentially, the ocean is no more a desert than the Nebraska corn fields are: there may not be very many lions or emu per square acre, but there sure as hell is a lot of life.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Monsters. There are fucking gross monsters that will destroy you in there.

That's why we started the Jaeger program.
posted by FJT at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are things what every sailor knows
Truths upon which we all agree
Put a silver coin beneath the mast
Or this voyage will be the last
And there are horrible things what live in the sea
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So big, that there are plenty of fish in it. At the same time.

There's plenty of fish in the ocean
There's plenty of fish in the sea
There's plenty of fish in the ocean
Oh bring all the fishies to me

Bring me
Bring me
Bring all the fishies to me, to me
Bring me
Bring me
Bring all the fishies to me

Wait, is this not what's in the song?

posted by Anything at 10:45 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why do they define a few things in terms of the US landmass, but define almost everything else in the metric system, knowing that Americans don't use the metric system?
posted by JiffyQ at 12:48 PM on July 2, 2013


Penguins and polar bears together. Hm. Perhaps the animation was not fact-checked?
posted by jiawen at 4:54 PM on July 2, 2013


I find it incredible that more people have walked on the moon, shit, more people have driven a fucking car on the moon than have touched ground in the Challenger Deep.

When I read that synopsis of the Trieste touching down in 1960 I get misty. Part of the outer window cracks and these guys say 'fuck it, we're going down'? My first question is always "What happens when you're not a sphere anymore?" Because whatever happens, it's gonna be quick.

Cameron suffering through six or seven hours in a 43 inch diameter sphere is a fun note as well.

The ocean is still so mysterious even after all this time. Shit, we mapped near space, and constantly watch it, yet we still have more of an idea of what's happening on the moon than what's going on in the deeps.
posted by Sphinx at 5:37 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Part of the outer window cracks and these guys say 'fuck it, we're going down'?

The outer window isn't part of the pressure system, and it probably cracked because of the fierce pressure acting on pre-existing stresses in the plastic. The outer window was there to prevent something from impacting the more important pressure sphere window, and it would still fulfill this function with a crack.

As for what happens in a catastrophic failure a sphere implosion is about the least gruesome of the possibilities. A crack in the pressure sphere, if it did not expand into implosionville, would create an unstoppable knifelike jet of water which would fill the sphere long before it could reach the surface, shorting out the electronics and possibly releasing chemical unpleasantness from things like batteries before the final drowny conclusion.
posted by localroger at 6:09 PM on July 2, 2013


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