Much of writing and storytelling involves putting the reader in the right head space so they can understand and even feel what you’re trying to communicate. It’s much more art than science, but it’s also necessary: if you don’t frame issues and provide critical context you can’t maximize the impact of what you have to say.
In many cases this is easily done, but not always. Whether looking for a needle in a haystack or an airliner in the ocean, human beings are notoriously terrible at gauging scale, and that’s true even when asked to give an estimate of something familiar like the size of a bedroom or kitchen. Tell the average person the footpath they’re following rises two thousand feet in three miles and they’ll probably think nothing of it, but an hour later they’ll be taking an extended break if not turning back.
This inability to comprehend scale cuts both ways, however, particularly when vast distances are involved. What we don’t understand can also open the door to plausible-sounding ideas that are in fact beyond fantasy, including space travel. Yes, you can visit the moon if you have the right equipment, but sending humans to Mars and back isn’t simply a longer voyage, it’s an entirely different animal. As for making the leap to interstellar flight the reality isn’t daunting it’s disqualifying, yet most people don’t know that because they don’t understand how vast such distances truly are.
When you get tired of scrolling there are buttons at the top of the screen that will speed your journey, but they will also necessarily blunt your understanding. Stick with it until you get to Mars if you can. It’s worth it.
– Mark Barrett