The Scale of the Universe

* An old French: univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word – universum


The Universe can be defined as everything that exists, everything that has existed, and everything that will exist. According to our current understanding, the Universe consists of spacetime, forms of energy (including electromagnetic radiation and matter), and the physical laws that relate them. The Universe encompasses all of life, all of history, and some philosophers and scientists even suggest that it encompasses ideas such as mathematics and logic.

What does the universe look like on small scales? On large scales? Humanity is discovering that the universe is a very different place on every proportion that has been explored. For example, so far as we know, every tiny proton is exactly the same, but every huge galaxy is different. On more familiar scales, a small glass table top to a human is a vast plane of strange smoothness to a dust mite – possibly speckled with cell boulders. Not all scale lengths are well explored  (what happens to the smallest mist droplets you sneeze, for example, is a topic of active research) and possibly useful to know to help stop the spread of disease. Interactive flash animation is a new window to many of the known scales of our universe. Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way. Learn the size of the Pillars of Creation and marvel at the minuscule scale of a neutrino.


Cary Huang

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