According to Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Trin Trigula of planet Frogstar B invented the Total Perspective Vortex (TPV) as revenge against his nagging wife, who constantly told him to get a “sense of proportion.” The TPV is a kind of torture-chamber that works by showing the victim just how small they really are compared to the size of the universe, driving them mad.
Of course, Adams was writing comedy about the egotism of the human race, but there is very real and exciting astronomy to be done by visualizing the vast structures of the universe. Scientists at Nature have created the best, most-detailed view yet of our galactic supercluster, which contains more than 100,000 galaxies. Given the Hawaiian name Laniakea, meaning ‘immeasurable heaven,’ ours is just one of millions of clusters in the observable universe, which hosts at least a hundred billion galaxies.
If watching this video makes you feel insignificant…well, that’s the Total Perspective Vortex at work.