Leaving space and zooming in on our own planet we find the scale of geology and earth sciences. This drawing is an illustration of an installation representing a cross section of the earth. The scale of this cross section would be 1:1 million, which means every millimeter is 1KM.
The atmosphere is a white line of 5 cm only (50KM) around a 12,7 meters circle representing earth’s diameter: 12.7000 KM. The earth’s crust is also just 5 cm. The deepest hole ever dug is 12,7 KM (1,27 mm) so the world under the crust is almost entirely unknown.
The earth’s crust is extremely thin. We can distinguish continental crusts which are up to 40 KM thick from oceanic crusts which are sometimes only 15 km thick. These thin crusts float on the red hot outer mantle which isn’t liquid lava but plastic,
moving extremely slowly making the continents move a few cm per year. The biosphere on top of the lithosphere is even thinner. This is what the earth would look like if “Mother Earth” or our notion of nature would be removed from our planet.
We do know the matter on the surface mostly comes from meteorite impact bringing water and carbon in the early stage of earth’s existence. More than meteorites many of earth’s physical features are actually shaped by life: Oxygen by plants and phytoplankton, the oil and gas are fossilized bodies of microscopic sea creatures piling up on the bottom of oceans.
All of the multi-layered sedimentary rock is shaped in that way as well. Coal are fossilized ancient forests that were buried before termites and microbes developed the ability to digest wood. Inside the earth however we find materials that are relatively rare on the surface: Magnesium Silicates and metals: nickel and in its center mostly iron.
The earth is actually mostly metal, and nature more like a moist deposit of dirt on a metal marble. So what is “mother nature”? Is it the dirt deposit or the entire planet including the metal marble? Or maybe the metal marble is the host, or the mother, and we,
the slimy deposit of life are its children. In this perspective “we” are all the animals and plants that ever lived but also the water, the air the oil gas and sedimentary rock formations shaped by life in the past 4 billion years.
On this scale, big as it is, human presence is mostly invisible. Oceans are 1 cm deep at best, but no planes, whales or boats are visible. Only cities are visible as thin lines of light in the night sky. We can appreciate the fragility of life and humanity on this planet but also the awesome scale of our world and of space around it. However small we might be, everything we know and everything we have, becomes all the more precious.
Another way to show the earth as a globe is to focus on its tectonic plates. We see here the earth not fractured and divided by political borders but by large masses of land shaping mountains oceans deserts and forests, causing volcanic activity and earth quakes. On this globe we can still recognize the outline of continents since they are much thicker than oceanic plates. This globe is also lit from the inside making the outline of the plates light up like streams of lava. It reveals the layer beyond the 1% which is everything that is known to us.