Tag Archives: School

Quarks to quasars: the scale of the universe

This is very cool. Click on the image (or on this link) to activate Cary and Michael Huang’s interactive program, which lets you zoom in and out to see the relative sizes of everything in the cosmos — from neutrinos and preons (and smaller) to the Local Galactic Supercluster and the size of the observable universe itself. And for kicks, check out the three alternate versions provided: “Wrong,” “Swirly,” and “Portuguese.”

Update 2/12/2012: See a new version here.

Demonstrations of the scale of the universe always fascinate me. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite zoom-out videos here, but it’s also possible to grasp the relative sizes and distances of things without the aid of fancy camera moves and CGI effects. How? Read on

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A declaration of intentions.

I.

Some time ago, the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates in elementary school approached me and asked — politely but firmly — if I wouldn’t mind telling my daughter to keep quiet about the fact that Santa Claus does not exist. Her daughter, she told me, still believed in Santa, and was getting very upset about the debates concerning his existence that were occurring around the lunch table — debates that were, apparently, being instigated by my daughter. Although I didn’t — and don’t — see any problem with kids having a healthy discussion about what’s real and what’s not real in the world, I promised this mother that my wife and I would talk to our daughter and figure out what was going on. Continue reading

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