Thursday, April 19, 2012

Size and Time

Sometimes its hard to get a good grip on just how big or small things are - especially when we can't observe them directly in relationship to something whose size we understand.  Just how big is the Sun, or an atom, or the universe?  One of the first attempts I ever saw to put sizes into perspective was the 1977 movie called Powers of Ten (shown below).


Now with our interactive technologies, you can be in control exploration yourself instead of watching a movie thanks to the work of someone named Cary Huang.  Check it out.  Its great fun.

Try it here (Adobe Flash required - thanks for the link Nicole)

Unfortunately, no mater how you play with the controls, sizes haven't really changed much since 1977.  ...and of course the relationship between size and time is pretty constant as we understand it now.  The nearest stars are still a LONG way away, so its not really clear how we'll ever be able to visit them (as explained by NASA in the video below).


BTW, Minute Physics does a nice job of explaining the relationship between distance and time in the video How Far is  a Second (below)