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Oct. 07, 2009

The Size of the Universe

by Austen Saltz

Click to enlarge images

Hi, I'm Austen. I'm a senior in high school and I love those deep philosophical universe-scale questions that keep us up at night. Hopefully science will help to enlighten me. I'll be posting about cool websites, videos, and more that are popping up across the web everyday.

universcale

I think that over the course of our day-to-day lives we tend to forget just how big and just how small the universe really gets. We interact with objects and people who are all just about our size in the grand scheme of things. But then we talk about things like atoms and galaxies, and we don't fully comprehend how big and small some of these things are.

Nikon's Universcale flash application(direct link) aims to show us our place in the universe with a flowing chart which shows the measurements of and allows you to zoom onto the smallest electron, up through cells and bacteria, then humans and buildings, and eventually to planets and solar systems, and then even more outward towards galaxies, nebulas, and even the entire universe. The measurements start out in femtometers (one quadrillionth of a meter) and ends in billions of lightyears. Every object has a description associated with it, describing its size and purpose in the universe. It's a fascinating journey and makes us appreciate the beauty of life and our very existence. It shows us how advanced and important we are, but then also how insignificant and simple.

For those of you interested in science fiction, Merzo.net provides similar graphs comparing airplanes to Star Destroyers to the USS Enterprise and more.

About Austen Saltz

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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