Interactive Visualization of the Scale of the Universe


From a plank length to the size of the known universe, this infographic interactively shows the difference in size between dozens of objects in the universe. By using a scroll bar, you pass through hoops of measurement, traveling past verifiable lengths and beyond the known universe. The smallest object that I recognized was about a third of the way to the end, a neutron, a proton and a Helium nucleus. on the other end are stars and galaxies. It is very humbling to see humans a little over half way through.
It is a Nasa photo of the day, a program that includes a short explanation by a professional astronomer. This infographic covers nearly everything in science and would be great to show in nearly any classroom. It shows biology by comparing humans to a giant earthworm and a human egg. It uses Chemistry by showing the size of protons and neutrons. It uses astronomy by comparing us to the size of the sun. And it’s just plain cool.
Encourage your students to explore it and ask them their thoughts. Did they know about the giant earthworm? Have they thought about the size of earth compared to the size of the universe. Did they know that there was a place beyond verifiable measurement? How does all this make them feel? Does it make them feel insignificant, or excited to know that there is more to discover. I often think about how sad it is that virtually all of the world has been discovered and how unlikely it is that I will personally have anything to do with any discoveries of other worlds (but of course I have to remember how unlikely it was that I would have been selected to captain a ship across the Atlantic to discover America several hundred years ago). But knowing that there are things not verifiable to current scientists that are worth sharing gives me confidence that I have the possibility of being a part of a major scientific discovery that will be in common practice in the classroom 100 years from now, if I can buckle down and pass a college level science class.


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