The Sciences

The interactive scale of the Universe

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJan 29, 2010 12:42 PM

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[Update: I'm getting notes from people saying that the site linked below has some NSFW content on it. I didn't see that when I posted this; the link itself is rated G and quite safe, but be warned if you click anywhere else.] A while back I posted a link to a nifty interactive graphic that let's you zoom down from human scales to that of the atom. In that post, I said I wish someone would make one that goes out to the size of the Universe, too. My wish has been answered. NewGrounds is a Flash animation portal, and a user by the handle of Fotoshop has created a wondrous and lovely interactive tool to show you the relative sizes of things in the Universe, from the largest galaxies down to the quantum foam. I don't know what else to say about it except This. Freaking. Rocks.

You can use the slider along the bottom to change the scale, and see where different objects fall. Unlike the famous "Powers of Ten" movie, you're not touring the Universe or moving through space; this just shows how relatively big things are. It's really very well done, and gives you a good sense of things. My favorite part is on the smallest end, when you have to go through several factors of ten with nothing happening to get to the Planck scale, the smallest scale in the Universe. It's really quite a forbidding notion. I even like the music (though I don't recognize it; anyone know?). : ) Well done, Fotoshop! Tip o' the meter stick to Tocsin.

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