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Size of our Universe

June 24, 2011

Large numbers are notoriously difficult to comprehend by humans. I remember a number of years back, when the US was talking about bail-outs and bringing out a figure reaching to a dizzying amount of a trillion dollars. This mind-numbing sum of money is just too large to comprehend in the vacuum of your head. What helps us to even get a small grip on the magnitude of the bailout are ways that display the volume visually, comparisons of the money to other spending eg military and a scale of the volume, for example the overall spending of the US per year.

The following post is not about money but rather the scales of objects found in our universe. It always leaves me in awe when I read about how large our sun is, or how grandiose the Milky Way galaxy is in comparison to earth, or the minute size of the atom to a human hand.
I found a number of videos and a hands-on macromedia flash presentation of objects in the universe and the comparison scales between them. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did:

1) This is an Imax video of the scales of our universe. Based on a previously old video released by IBM titled ‘Power of ten’ the Imax producers scale out and back again from a 1×1 meter area, each time increasing/decreasing by a power of 10. Brilliant video. Narrated by Morgan Freeman for extra effect.

2)The following video compares the earth to other planets in our solar system and then proceeds to display ever increasing stars. With 5 million + views it’s definitely a good visual display of scale

3) This video has remarkable CGI. It begins on Earth and zooms out slowly to the far reaches of the universe while captivating the viewer with brilliant visuals.

4) This is a flash based interactive ap that allows the user to scale up and down at leasure and view the multitude of objects and how they scale up. The visuals are not great but it has a ton of things to compare. I was glued to it for a long time.


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