Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scale of the Universe

What do Gomez’s Hamburger, Palm Jebel Ali and Mimivirus have in common? They are all found in Scale of the Universe 2 at 2.5 x 1015 meters, 8 x 103 meters, and 4 x 10-7meters, respectively. Scale of the Universe 2 is a cool, interactive website which goes nicely with my earlier blog post about the Powers of Ten lesson and video. Visitors can zoom all the way down to teeny Quantum Foam and then all the way out to the observable universe and the Hubble Deep Field.

Each object has a brief description, so you will not be left wondering what Palm Jebel Ali is (the largest human-made island) and you’ll know Gomez’s Hamburger is a heavenly body, not a menu item. There are commonplace entries like a Boeing 747 and a sunflower, too.

Students can use this site to explore relative magnitude even if they are not yet ready to learn about exponents in math. Author Istvan Banyai has written a wonderful book called Zoom, which does something similar in low-tech. Students might try to create their own book in this format.

John J. Flynn library super-star Corey Wallace brought Scale of the Universe to my attention. This is just another example of how my own universe is constantly expanding with the help of my talented and enthusiastic colleagues.