The powers of 10 …

In other posts, I’ve talked about the unimaginable size of the universe. “Feeling Insignificant Yet?” talks about how big some of the other planets and stars are in comparison to us and our home planet, and in “And you thought size mattered …” I noted that as unimaginably huge as the sizes of distant stars were, the distances between them makes them seem like specks in the night. But there’s another side to that incredible vastness as well … within each and every one of us are entire universes composed of atoms and molecules that make up the cells that combine to form us.

I’ve just recently stumbled across a java applet from Florida State University that illustrates both the vastness of the universe, and the minuteness of the quantum world, better than any other one I’ve seen. The way they do it, through stepping through the various levels, is very intuitive, and it certainly leaves an impression I think. One of the things that’s always fascinated me about the science of the world is that it seems split between the very small and the very large, with ourselves situated somewhere in the middle. This animation illustrates that very well.

Go check it out and spend a minute outside yourself … we are never poorly served by remembering that there are things going on in the universe at levels we simply do not operate on. Our world and its processes are important, of course, but its always good to remember that there are things operating on levels so far above and below us as to be wholly out of our perception.


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