I confess I didn't stop to read what I assume is excellent signage. Mostly, I wanted to get up close to one of the twenty-seven antennae, each of which weighs over 230 tons, is 82 feet across, and over 90 feet high. They are very impressive! They get moved around on 82 miles of railroad tracks shaped in a Y, to make up four different configurations.
Geology also involves big numbers, especially when it comes to the age of the materials of this planet, but at least I can touch dirt and rocks. And the Earth isn't that big, when it comes down to it. The idea that the solid inner core of iron has a radius of 760 miles, while the liquid, outer core of nickel-iron alloy is 1,355 miles thick—those numbers my poor head can pretty much grasp. Then comes the mantle, at 1,800 miles' thickness. And the crust? Between 3 and 46 miles thick. I get that.
Indeed, the Earth is shockingly tiny in comparison to the vast universe. I don't think I'd ever realized just how tiny until just now.
Because 13.3 billion light-years? That's incomprehensible. One light-year, or about 5.9 x 10^12 miles, is comprehensible. I don't even get 92 million miles (about 500 light-seconds), which is how far we are from the sun, on average.
Be that as it may, I enjoy looking at the sky, even if I can't fathom it. I enjoy knowing a few constellations, tracking the planets as they move throughout the seasons, and looking through a telescope at the rings of Saturn or the Andromeda galaxy. And I enjoy knowing that there are serious scientists who understand far, far, far more than I do about our universe and its origins and makeup. And who get to use the VLA to peer deep into space at specific objects of which I have no ken, and put together a bigger picture of our universe.
I enjoyed my visit, and I took some photos. Here's three of them.