Relative Size of Things in the Universe

Getting the relative size and distances right is not always straightforward for us – having evolved in mediocristan of middle-earth, going a few orders of magnitude larger or smaller just blows our common sense and spatial awareness to pieces (see the impressive overview of our solar system produced and donated to me by a seven-year old). I never get tired of watching good animations of zooming in and out of the world as we know it. Decades ago, it was the Powers of Ten that gave such a view for the first time – at least it was the first movie of this kind I got exposed to (the book is here).

Hence when I came across the post below on SchockWellenReiter it prompted me to search for related videos – there is a lot of good stuff out there I wish my teachers had available when I went to school! Kantel describes the Planetenweg (planetary pathway?, opened in Sptember 2003) in the honourable old University-Town Göttingen: It represents our Solar system to scale (1:2 Billion) – Two Billion Kilometres in (outer) space corresponding to one Kilometre on the Planetenweg. Planet Earth shrinks to a 6,5 Millimetre ball (approx. a quarter of an inch) while the sun is about 75 metres away and about 70 centimetres big. You have to walk about an hour to get from the sun (close to the central train station) to reach Pluto (at Bismarckturm) … I know, it’s just a dwarf planet now … relatively speaking you are walking faster than light! To reach our next neighbouring star you’d need continue walking for about half a year, about half around the earth.

The video below is based on current data from NASA – It features a sphere denoting the area that the earliest radio-wave emissions from earth (ca. 70+ years ago) have travelled. Enjoy!


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  1. #1 by cistronic on 2012/03/14 - 15:14

    “The Scale of the Universe” – Interactive Flash Animation – Credit & Copyright: Cary & Michael Huang

  2. #2 by cistronic on 2012/04/20 - 22:56

    Amazing interactive infographic

  3. #3 by cistronic on 2012/05/17 - 10:40

    Measuring the Universe
    by Royal Observatory Greenwich

  4. #4 by cistronic on 2012/09/20 - 20:24

    nominated for the “InformationIsBeautiful” – Awards:

  5. #5 by cistronic on 2013/03/10 - 12:52
    Tarjei Vassbotn ‏@tarjeiv via twitter: Cool interactive view on the scale of things

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