Visualizing the scale of the universe

The reality probed by physics spans an immense range of scales from the Planck length at the bottom end of the subatomic realm, to the edge of the observable universe at the top end of the cosmic scale. Getting a grip on such measures can be very difficult, even for scientists. Good visualizations definitely help, and are fascinating in their own right.

Powers of Ten is of course the most well known classic, and it also has a modern interface. But there are a bunch of alternatives, each with their slightly unique take. Scale of the Universe 2 is based on the same idea, as is Nikon’s Universcale.  Chronozoom is a newcomer still in beta that visualizes the depths of time instead of space.

One of my own favorites (shown above) is the Digital Universe Atlas by the American Museum of Natural History, since it is as closely based on real measured data as possible. Parenthetically, some researchers are using AI techniques to help chart and make sense of the large-scale data.

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