Sunday, February 12, 2012

Big things and small things

The Naturalist sent me a great link today to a site that lets you scroll through a set of pictures and descriptions of objects in the universe sorted by size.  It goes right from Planck length through quarks to humans to planets to galactic superclusters.  The nice thing too is that this isn't all dry science as the descriptions are fun and sometimes silly.  I really enjoyed plowing through it and reading the various descriptions of the astronomical features involved - I have some sense of how big things are out there but I was completely blown away by how utterly enormous some of the stars are in comparison to our own.  There sure were a lot more orders of magnitude between quarks and Planck than I really had intuitively understood there to be.  This is the sort of thing that I think most people can click around in and enjoy but should be mandatory for kids to look at while they go through school.  Seeing just how far out of our normal range of experience these things are can give you a real appreciation for what scientists do and just how much we can learn about the universe when we set our minds to it.

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