Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Universe

Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known, what does your life actually matter?
- Europa Report (2013)

Only dream I ever have... is it the surface of the Sun? Every time I shut my eyes... it's always the same.
- Cassie, Sunshine (2007)

It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil - which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.
- Richard P. Feynman

At the planet’s very heart lies a solid rocky core, at least five times larger than Earth, seething with the appalling heat generated by the inexorable contraction of the stupendous mass of material pressing down to its centre. For more than four billion years Jupiter’s immense gravitational power has been squeezing the planet slowly, relentlessly, steadily, converting gravitational energy into heat, raising the temperature of that rocky core to thirty thousand degrees, spawning the heat flow that warms the planet from within. That hot, rocky core is the original protoplanet seed from the solar system’s primeval time, the nucleus around which those awesome layers of hydrogen and helium and ammonia, methane, sulphur compounds and water have wrapped themselves.
- Ben Bova, Jupiter

Jupiter is the largest of all the solar system’s planets, more than ten times bigger and three hundred times as massive as Earth. Jupiter is so immense it could swallow all the other planets easily. Its Great Red Spot, a storm that has raged for centuries, is itself wider than Earth. And the Spot is merely one feature visible among the innumerable vortexes and streams of Jupiter’s frenetically racing cloud tops. Yet Jupiter is composed mainly of the lightest elements, hydrogen and helium, more like a star than a planet. All that size and mass, yet Jupiter spins on its axis in less than ten hours, so fast that the planet is clearly not spherical: Its poles are noticeably flattened. Jupiter looks like a big, colorfully striped beach ball that’s squashed down as if some invisible child were sitting on it. Spinning that fast, Jupiter’s deep, deep atmosphere is swirled into bands and ribbons of multihued clouds: pale yellow, saffron orange, white, tawny yellow-brown, dark brown, bluish, pink and red. Titanic winds push the clouds across the face of Jupiter at hundreds of kilometers per hour.
- Ben Bova, Jupiter

They were in orbit around the planet now, and its giant curving bulk loomed so huge that he could see nothing else, nothing but the bands and swirls of clouds that raced fiercely across Jupiter's face. The clouds shifted and flowed before his eyes, spun into eddies the size of Asia, moved and throbbed and pulsed like living creatures. Lightning flashed down there, sudden explosions of light that flickered back and forth across the clouds, like signalling lamps.
- Ben Bova, Jupiter

The vast spread 
Of darkness 
That speaks of mystery 
The darkness that reveals 
The beauty that lies beneath 
In the form of glittering 
Stars, a countless beauty 
That seemed to conceal 
A million stories 
That can make the mankind 
Take a new look at life 
And the majestic moon 
That silently looks at mankind 
Wondering how its serenity 
Was disturbed by the little steps 
Of a man from the beautiful earth 
Yet softly smiling back 
And let the world sleep 
In its magical glow 
A glow that soothes 
The world’s senses 
And forget the pain of reality
- Chandrasekar Koneru

For many planet hunters, though, the ultimate goal is still greater (or actually, smaller) prey: terrestrial planets, like Earth, circling a star like the Sun. Astronomers already know that three such planets orbit at least one pulsar. But planet hunters will not rest until they are in sight of a small blue world, warm and wet, in whose azure skies and upon whose wind-whipped oceans shines a bright yellow star like our own.
- Ken Croswell

God is infinite, so His universe must be too. Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of His kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds. 
- Giordana Bruno

We live in a changing universe, and few things are changing faster than our conception of it. 
- Timothy Ferris

Lost in the milky way, 
Smile at the empty sky 
And wait for the moment 
When a million chances may all collide.
- The Lightning Seeds

No known roof is as beautiful as the skies above.
- Michael O'Muircheartaigh

The Moon is a white strange world, great, white, soft-seeming globe in the night sky, and what she actually communicates to me across space I shall never fully know. But the Moon that pulls the tides, and the Moon that controls the menstrual periods of women, and the Moon that touches the lunatics, she is not the mere dead lump of the astronomist.... When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness.
- D.H. Lawrence

Space is to place as eternity is to time.
- Joseph Joubert

Do all the stars have systems of planets?
- Anakin Skywalker

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
- Travels in Alaska by John Muir

Space is the breath of art.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do.
- Galileo Galilei

The strongest affection and utmost zeal should, I think, promote the studies concerned with the most beautiful objects. This is the discipline that deals with the universe's divine revolutions, the stars' motions, sizes, distances, risings and settings . . . for what is more beautiful than heaven?
- Nicolaus Copernicus

There is a clarity, a brilliance to space that simply doesn't exist on earth, even on a cloudless summer's day in the Rockies, and nowhere else can you realize so fully the majesty of our Earth and be so awed at the thought that it's only one of untold thousands of planets.
- Gus Grissom

Teach me your mood, 
O patient stars. 
Who climb each night, 
the ancient sky. 
leaving on space no shade, no scars, 
no trace of age, no fear to die.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
- Henry Van Dyke

The most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. 
- Indian Proverb

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes, beholds his hereditary skies.
- Ovid

When you are risen on the eastern horizon
You have filled every land with your beauty…
Though you are far away, your rays are on Earth.
- Akhaton

Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.
- Plato

Deep beneath the surface of the Sun, enormous forces were gathering. At any moment, the energies of a million hydrogen bombs might burst forth in the awesome explosion…. Climbing at millions of miles per hour, an invisible fireball many times the size of Earth would leap from the Sun and head out across space.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Beyond lonely Pluto, dark and shadowless, lies the glittering realm of interstellar space, the silent ocean that rolls on and on, past stars and galaxies alike, to the ends of the Universe. What do men know of this vast infinity, this shoreless ocean? Is it hostile or friendly–or merely indifferent?
- James Strong

I believe a blade of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars.
- Walt Whitman

All knowledge and understanding of the Universe was no more than playing with stones and shells on the seashore of the vast imponderable ocean of truth.
- Isaac Newton

The wonderful arrangement and harmony of the cosmos would only originate in the plan of an almighty omniscient being. This is and remains my greatest comprehension.
- Isaac Newton

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. 
- Carl Sagan

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
- Carl Sagan

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. 
- Carl Sagan

It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English (up to fifty words used in correct context) no human being has been reported to have learned Dolphinese. 
- Carl Sagan

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
- Carl Sagan

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
- Carl Sagan

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. 
- Carl Sagan

We are one species.
We are starstuff.
- Carl Sagan

An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth - scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many books - might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity and consumerism.
- Carl Sagan

But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it 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 young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, 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.
- Carl Sagan

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
- Carl Sagan

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. 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. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
- Carl Sagan

Our posturing, 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. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
- Carl Sagan

What a splendid perspective contact with a profoundly different civilization might provide! In a cosmic setting vast and old beyond ordinary human understanding we are a little lonely, and we ponder the ultimate significance, if any, of our tiny but exquisite blue planet, the Earth… In the deepest sense the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves.
 - Carl Sagan

I demonstrate by means of philosophy that the earth is round, and is inhabited on all sides; that it is insignificantly small, and is borne through the stars.
- Johannes Kepler

We are like the inhabitants of an isolated valley in New Guinea who communicate with societies in neighboring valleys (quite different societies, I might add) by runner and by drum. When asked how a very advanced society will communicate, they might guess by an extremely rapid runner or by an improbably large drum. They might not guess a technology beyond their ken. And yet, all the while, a vast international cable and radio traffic passes over them, around them, and through them... We will listen for the interstellar drums, but we will miss the interstellar cables. We are likely to receive our first messages from the drummers of the neighboring galactic valleys - from civilizations only somewhat in our future. The civilizations vastly more advanced than we, will be, for a long time, remote both in distance and in accessibility. At a future time of vigorous interstellar radio traffic, the very advanced civilizations may be, for us, still insubstantial legends.
- Carl Sagan

The Universe forces those who live in it to understand it. Those creatures who find everyday experience a muddled jumble of events with no predictability, no regularity, are in grave peril. The Universe belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out.
- Carl Sagan

...the scientific cast of mind examines the world critically, as if many alternative worlds might exist, as if other things might be here which are not. Then we are forced to ask why what we see is present and not something else. Why are the Sun and moon and the planets spheres? Why not pyramids, or cubes, or dodecahedra? Why not irregular, jumbly shapes? Why so symmetrical, worlds? If you spend any time spinning hypotheses, checking to see whether they make sense, whether they conform to what else we know. Thinking of tests you can pose to substantiate or deflate hypotheses, you will find yourself doing science.
- Carl Sagan

The heavens call to you, and circle about you, displaying to you their eternal splendors and your eye gazes only to earth.
- Dante Alighieri

Forty years as an astronomer have not quelled my enthusiasm for lying outside after dark, staring up at the stars. It isn’t only the beauty of the night sky that thrills me. It’s the sense I have that some of those points of light are the home stars of beings not so different from us, daily cares and all, who look across space and wonder, just as we do.
- Frank Drake

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.
- Stephen Hawking

It is sound judgment to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be competent to understand so simple a thing as a star. 
- Arthur Eddington 

The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, but it is queerer than we can imagine.
- J.B.S. Haldane

Ever since celestial mechanics in the skillful hands of Leverrier and Adams led to the world-amazed discovery of Neptune, a belief has existed begotten of that success that still other planets lay beyond, only waiting to be found.
- Percival Lowell

Though thou art far away, thy rays are on Earth;
Though thou art in their faces, no one knows thy going.
- Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten

Counting stars by candlelight all are dim but one is bright; the spiral light of Venus rising first and shining best, from the northwest corner of a brand-new crescent moon crickets and cicadas sing a rare and different tune.
- Robert Hunter “Terrapin Station”

I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breathe in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds.
- Joy Harjo “Secrets from the Centre of the World”

It is not impossible to suppose that in this case our luminary was taken in the act…
- Balfour Stewart

The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. 
- Bill Watterson

I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. 
- Woody Allen

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. 
- Douglas Adams

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. 
- Douglas Adams

A star shines on the hour of our meeting.
- Elvish greeting, "The Lord of the Rings"

How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story "Nightfall," about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen. 
- Roger Ebert

Telescopes are in some ways like time machines. They reveal galaxies so far away that their light has taken billions of years to reach us. We in astronomy have an advantage in studying the universe, in that we can actually see the past. 
We owe our existence to stars, because they make the atoms of which we are formed. So if you are romantic you can say we are literally starstuff. If you're less romantic you can say we're the nuclear waste from the fuel that makes stars shine. 
We've made so many advances in our understanding. A few centuries ago, the pioneer navigators learnt the size and shape of our Earth, and the layout of the continents. We are now just learning the dimensions and ingredients of our entire cosmos, and can at last make some sense of our cosmic habitat. 
- Sir Martin Rees

One of the most impressive discoveries was the origin of the energy of the stars, that makes them continue to burn. One of the men who discovered this was out with his girl friend the night after he realized that nuclear reactions must be going on in the stars in order to make them shine. 
She said "Look at how pretty the stars shine!" 
He said, "Yes, and right now I am the only man in the world who knows why they shine." 
She merely laughed at him. She was not impressed with being out with the only man who, at that moment, knew why stars shine. Well, it is sad to be alone, but that is the way it is in this world.
- Richard Feynman

Cosmology does, I think, affect the way that we perceive humanity's role in nature. One thing we've learnt from astronomy is that the future lying ahead is more prolonged than the past. Even our sun is less than halfway through its life. 
- Sir Martin Rees

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.
- Carl Sagan

In the moonlight 
While drinking homemade wine 
My sorrow hung heavy 
And my heart felt like lead. 
The moon was golden yellow 
The night soft and mellow. 
There was a smell of jasmine 
All around. 
And I felt the weight of the world 
Upon my shoulders. 
I looked at the twinkling stars in the sky 
So far and wide 
Here’s to you 
I lifted my wine 
And my eyes looked upon the brilliance 
Of the moon and stars 
From afar...
- Rasma Raisters

Exits sun; enters moon. 
This moon is never alone. 
Stars are seen all around. 
These twinklers do not make a sound. 
The tiny ones shine from their place. 
Mother moon watches with a smiling face. 
Its light is soothing to the eyes. 
Night’s darkness hides its face. 
Cool and calm is its light. 
Heat and sweat are never felt. 
Some days, moon is not seen. 
Makes kids wonder, where had it been? 
Partial eclipse shades the moon. 
In summers it does not arrive soon. 
Beautiful is this milky ball. 
It is the love of one and all. 
- Srimathi Raman

What a type of happy family is the family of the Sun! With what order, with what harmony, with what blessed peace, do his children the planets move around him, shining with light which they drink in from their parent's in at once upon him and on one another!
- Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

There they stand, the innumerable stars, shining in order like a living hymn, written in light.
- N.P. Willis

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.
- Frederick L. Knowles

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space.  Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages.  Otherwise there was no reminder of human life.  My companion and I were alone with the stars:  the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon.  It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators.  But it can be see many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.
- Rachel Carson

No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky.
- Llewelyn Powys

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky... a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.
- Victor Hugo

The contemplation of celestial things will make a man both speak and think more sublimely and magnificently when he descends to human affairs.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

From our home on Earth, we look out into the distances and strive to imagine the sort of world into which we were born. With increasing distance our knowledge fades until at the last dim horizon we search among ghostly errors for landmarks scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and it will not be suppressed.
- Edwin P. Hubble

It has always irked me as improper that there are still so many people for whom the sky is no more than a mass of random points of light. I do not see why we should recognize a house, a tree, or a flower here below and not, for example, the red Arcturus up there in the heavens as it hangs from its constellation Bootes, like a basket hanging from a balloon.
- M.C. Escher

As the skies appear to a man, so is his mind. Some see only clouds there; some, prodigies and portents; some rarely look up at all; their heads, like the brutes,' are directed toward Earth. Some behold there serenity, purity, beauty ineffable. The world runs to see the panorama, when there is a panorama in the sky which few go to see.
- Henry David Thoreau

Vision, in my view, is the cause of the greatest benefit to us, inasmuch as none of the accounts now given concerning the Universe would ever have been given if men had not seen the stars or the sun or the heavens. But as it is, the vision of day and night and of months and circling years has created the art of number and has given us not only the notion of Time but also means of research into the nature of the Universe. From these we have procured Philosophy in all its range, than which no greater boon ever has come or will come, by divine bestowal, unto the race of mortals.
- Plato

That night I lie out under the stars again. The Pleiades are there winking at me. I am no longer on my way from one place to another. I have changed lives. My life now is as black and white as night and day; a life of fierce struggle under the sun, and peaceful reflection under the night sky. I feel as though I am floating on a raft far, far away from any world I ever knew.
- Ted Simon

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
- William Wordsworth

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky... a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.
- Victor Hugo

Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity. By day, space is one with the earth and with man - it is his sun that is shining, his clouds that are floating past; at night, space is his no more. When the great earth, abandoning day, rolls up the deeps of the heavens and the universe, a new door opens for the human spirit, and there are few so clownish that some awareness of the mystery of being does not touch them as they gaze. For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars - pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. Fugitive though the instant be, the spirit of man is, during it, ennobled by a genuine moment of emotional dignity, and poetry makes its own both the human spirit and experience.
- Henry Beston

Whoever it was who searched the heavens with a telescope and found no God would not have found the human mind if he had searched the brain with a microscope.
- George Santayana

Do there exist many worlds, or is there but a single world? This is one of the most noble and exalted questions in the study of Nature.
- Saint Albertus Magnus

How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.
- Christiaan Huygens

Now when we think that each of these stars is probably the centre of a solar system grander than our own, we cannot seriously take ourselves to be the only minds in it all.
- Percival Lowell

Two lights for guidance. The first, our little glowing atom of community, with all that it signifies. The second, the cold light of the stars, symbol of the hypercosmical reality, with its crystal ecstasy. Strange that in this light, in which even the dearest love is frostily asserted, and even the possible defeat of our half-waking world is contemplated without remission of praise, the human crisis does not lose but gains significance. Strange, that it seems more, not less, urgent to play some part in this struggle, this brief effort of animalcules striving to win for their race some increase of lucidity before the ultimate darkness.
- Olaf Stapledon

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.
- John Muir

The light and heat of the universe comes from the sun, and its cold and darkness from the withdrawal of the sun.
- Leonardo da Vinci

All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place.
- Douglas Adams

Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns it calls me on and on across the universe.
- John Lennon

I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.
- Arthur C. Clarke

The universe is a philosophical abyss.
- Kedar Joshi

The world is a contradiction; the universe a paradox.
- Kedar Joshi

If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
- C.S. Lewis an infinite universe, anything that could be imagined might somewhere exist." 
- Dean Koontz

Finally, from what we now know about the cosmos, to think that all this was created for just one species among the tens of millions of species who live on one planet circling one of a couple of hundred billion stars that are located in one galaxy among hundreds of billions of galaxies, all of which are in one universe among perhaps an infinite number of universes all nestled within a grand cosmic multiverse, is provincially insular and anthropocentrically blinkered. Which is more likely? That the universe was designed just for us, or that we see the universe as having been designed just for us?
- Michael Shermer

Are you aware that humanity is just a blip? Not even a blip. Just a fraction of a fraction of what the universe has been and will become? Talk about perspective. I figure I can't feel so entirely stupid about saying what I said because, first of all, it's true. And second of all, there will be no remnant of me or my stupidity. No fossil or geographical shift that can document, really, even the most important historical human beings, let alone my paltry admissions.
- Meg Mullins

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
- Rachel Carson

The actuality of us being cognizant and accepting of the fact we are but a speck of sand in a universe sized desert, whose existence is irrelevant to any facet of universal function is a hard pill to swallow. Knowing the world will go on for another billion years after death and you will have no recollection of anything, just as you have no recollection of the billion years before your birth is a mind-boggling intuition.
- Hewitt E. Moore

Nothing can be inside an edgeless universe.
-Toba Beta

Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?
- Stephen W. Hawking

Pumbaa: “Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?”
Timon: “Pumbaa, I don’t wonder; I know.”
Pumbaa: “Oh. What are they?”
Timon: “They’re fireflies that got stuck up in that bluish-black thing”.
Pumbaa: “Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.”
Timon: “Pumbaa, with you, everything’s gas.”
- The Lion King

For all these years you were merely
A smear of light through our telescopes
On the clearest, coldest night; a hint
Of a glint, just a few pixels wide
On even your most perfectly-framed portraits.
But now, now we see you!
Swimming out of the dark - a great
Stone shark, your star-tanned skin pitted
And pocked, scarred after eons of drifting
Silently through the endless ocean of space.
Here on Earth our faces lit up as we saw
You clearly for the first time; eyes wide
With wonder we traced the strangely familiar
Grooves raked across your sides, 
Wondering if Rosetta had doubled back to Mars
And raced past Phobos by mistake –
Then you were gone, falling back into the black,
Not to be seen by human eyes again for a thousand
Blue Moons or more. But we know you now,
We know you; you’ll never be just a speck of light again.
- Stuart Atkinson

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
- Douglas Adams

In a nutshell, the universe is 4% visible, 23% undetectable and 73% unimaginable. Welcome to the cosmos, full of mass you can measure but not manhandle, driven by a force you can infer but not explain.
- Tim Radford