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July 16, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe


 
Nice one! If you like that, you'll like this interactive scrolling Scale of the Universe, all the way from quantum to massive.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great post!
posted by Renoroc at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2012


"We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee."

Now THAT was even more informative than the info graphic, as a UK resident payer of the licence fee.

Quite what the logic is of being less eligible, as a person who pays the license fee, than someone who does not, escapes me.
posted by falcon at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Heh. Paradoxically, I cannot access this BBC link from within the UK:

We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com
posted by vacapinta at 7:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do you indicate "the" distance from the Earth to Jupiter?

Stupid earth-o-centrism.
posted by DU at 7:26 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pluto is correctly given the respect that it deserves.
posted by Flood at 7:31 AM on July 16, 2012


We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com

That's utterly ridiculous - I totally understand that I, as a non-UK resident, do not have access to services which are paid for by the license fee.

But UK residents should have access to the commercial BBC Worldwide site. after all, won't they just help generate more revenue?

The infographic is good - but I think the point about scale would have been better made if they hadn't continually changed it. How am I supposed to understand that Earth's atmosphere is this thin smear across our planet and how insignificant we are within the solar system if they stuff nearby is magnified?
posted by jb at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


vacapinta: Paradoxically, I cannot access this BBC link from within the UK

I just registered a complaint (more of an exercise in mild pique, really, but the BBC doesn't allow me to differentiate). I'll post the reply back here.
posted by falcon at 7:37 AM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, that's just insane. UK people can't see something that the UK government is paying for, and that's available to anyone else anywhere in the world?

You guys need to call your MPs. That's both unconscionable and extremely stupid. If a visitor from Outer Slobovia is allowed to see it, because the BBC believes it will profit in some way from doing so, then surely they'd profit even more from letting genuine First Worlders in on the deal?

Not to mention the fact that these particular First Worlders may (or may not, depending on how BBC Worldwide is funded) write their paychecks in the first place?
posted by Malor at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2012


There are few better ways to make regional market segmentation look ridiculous than to invoke it in the context of cosmic distance...

we can send a probe 17.94 billion kilometres into space but I'm sorry, we cannot make this infographic visible both inside and outside of the UK at the same time
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:42 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]




I'm in the UK and I no longer pay the licence fee, because I don't watch live television any more. The river pageant hardly persuaded me to change my mind.

Does that mean I can view it?

Oh... nope, apparently not.
posted by mopheeoos at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2012


If any of you UK viewers would like to see this, I've mirrored it into my own webspace. I don't want to publish the link here, as the BBC may get annoyed with me if I do, but I'll be happy to send you a link in MeMail if you ask.
posted by Malor at 7:51 AM on July 16, 2012


Odd that they show the "travel time" for each distance "At warp speed 1", with a little silhouette of the (TOS) Enterprise. They really just mean the speed of light. It's a bit silly not to just say so.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2012


Being less polite than Malor, I've put the images up on imgur.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


ok so when does the voyager II leave the heliosphere? I am so very excited for that!
posted by rebent at 8:04 AM on July 16, 2012


[singing]
Scrolling scrolling scrolling, scrolling scrolling scrolling, page down!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the first infographic I've seen in a long time that actually informs. It's very nicely done.
posted by Nelson at 8:25 AM on July 16, 2012


We're not sure, rebent, and we may not be sure until a decade or two after it's already happened, as we don't really know what to expect. We've never actually traveled out that far before, in any form, so we might call the transition finished in, say, 2020, and then find out that Voyager is still in an unstable area in 2025, not truly out of the heliosphere yet.

At these scales and distances, things will have to very boring around Voyager for a long time to be sure it's truly out into interstellar space.
posted by Malor at 8:35 AM on July 16, 2012


Stupid earth-o-centrism.

Indeed; the sooner everyone realizes that the universe revolves around me, rather than the Earth, the better it will be for everyone.

In other news, I liked the graphic. The changes of scale and how they reminded you of those changes, were pretty clever, I thought.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:36 AM on July 16, 2012


My wow moment was in discovering that the distance between Earth and Saturn is roughly the same as that between Saturn and Uranus. Boggles the mind.
posted by the cydonian at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2012


DU: How do you indicate "the" distance from the Earth to Jupiter?

Stupid earth-o-centrism.


Bottom of Infographic: Everything in space is moving constantly, and distances are variable and dynamic over wide ranges. In most cases, we have given average distances for simplicity's sake. For planets, we have given minimum distances - the closest the planets come to Earth over the course of their orbits.

Pays to scroll down.
posted by Peevish at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This makes me even more excited to realize that Voyager II should be leaving the heliosphere in my lifetime. I mean, I knew it was far, but holy crap is that far!
posted by Karmeliet at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2012


How do you indicate "the" distance from the Earth to Jupiter?

I know. I would like to ask the designer of this infographic to take a ruler and his kitchen clock and measure the distance from the tip of the second hand to the tip of the hour hand. And then confirm the distance. And reconfirm.

This is a graphic that is pretty light on the info.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2012


@ricochet biscuit - see above.
posted by Peevish at 8:46 AM on July 16, 2012


This infographic didn't satisfy me much. I especially didn't appreciate the seemingly arbitrary scale jumps. I get more out of Randall's graphic with its logarithmic scale.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2012


(You may also enjoy his gravity well chart, too, though distances are not to any scale on this one.)
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2012


I think the point about scale would have been better made if they hadn't continually changed it.

Exactly, I'd love to see this at a constant scale, if possible in some way that sadistically prevented using the Home/End keys and forced the viewer to scroll for minutes (hours? days?) non-stop, to really ram home the point of how far away the Voyagers are.
posted by Bangaioh at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2012


They didn't need to make the infographic stupidly large - just make the Earth and everything near it stupidly small (as they are in reality).
posted by jb at 9:22 AM on July 16, 2012


They didn't need to make the infographic stupidly large - just make the Earth and everything near it stupidly small (as they are in reality).

Here you go:

.
|
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:23 AM on July 16, 2012


so this made me want to know how far out hubble is (559 km (347 mi) from earth in orbit. this surprised me. thought it was much farther out) and how long it takes to receive transmissions from voyager I (approx 16 hours, as of february 2012). so that's fucking awesome.
posted by shmegegge at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2012


I also was annoyed by the scale jumps. It was really hard to get a sense of how much the scale had changed, because it would go from something like this:
|—————| = 100km
to this:
|——| = 1000km
Since the benchmark (Is that the right word? You know, the |––| bit.) got hortened this means that it was actually something like a 25x difference in scale, but the numbers made it look like it was only a 10x difference. Not only is this confusing (and probably overlooked by most viewers) it's also difficult to visualize.

This sort of thing is what logarithmic scales were invented for. I realize that most people have probably forgotten what little trigonometry they may ever have learned, but it's actually not hard to convey a logarithmic scale in a graphic even if the viewer doesn't even know that that's the word for it; you just mark the graphic at regular intervals with 10m, 100m, 1000m, etc. I realize this gets a little difficult in and of itself once you get into higher orders of magnitude, but that's where the light travel time (Why the hell did they do "travel time at warp factor 1"? I'm a huge nerd but how fast is that, anyway?) side of the graphic becomes useful.

Anyway, not a huge fan of this particular "solar system to scale" graphic. The xkcd one is better, but if you really want to get a sense of the scale of the solar system (and universe!) then for my money you still can't do any better than Powers of Ten. You know, somebody should get around to doing an updated remake of that thing. It's still a powerful visualization but it could use some sprucing up.
posted by Scientist at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know I should just get over it but it feels wrong for the objects (especially the skydiving person and the hot-air balloons) to be "upside down". Like maybe the image-except-for-text should have been rotated 180 degrees and a few lines of JavaScript could have started us at the bottom, so we were scrolling up.

Also what Scientist said about the scale.

Still, kinda cool.
posted by glhaynes at 10:22 AM on July 16, 2012


@ricochet biscuit - see above.
posted by Peevish at 11:46 AM on July 16 [+] [!]


Eponsyterical!

No, I saw this of course, but burying this piece of information that is rather crucial to understanding the arrangement for a novice*, who would be the intended audience here. If you declare THIS IS THE DISTANCE in your main text, and after scrolling down fifty screens, mention Well, the average distance anyway, your infographic may need more work to get in, y'know, the info.

*I am thinking of my aunt -- and doesn't everyone have an aunt like this? -- who is currently a few weeks away from her annual excited e-mail to everyone in her address book about how on August 27, Mars will appear bigger than the full moon. I have been trying to explain this stuff to her since 2003, but it doesn't stick.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Exactly, I'd love to see this at a constant scale, if possible in some way that sadistically prevented using the Home/End keys and forced the viewer to scroll for minutes (hours? days?) non-stop, to really ram home the point of how far away the Voyagers are."

This one is to scale!

The Bad Astronomer posted a page about a linear scale model image of the solar system. It only goes to Pluto, not out to the Voyagers.

"The Sun is about 560 pixels wide, putting Pluto something like 2 million pixels to the right."

The scroll bar is cool. Hold down the scrolling, and see the planets zoom past (eventually). Hint: there's huge gaps between the gas giant planets. And scroll all the way to the right. Pluto is on the right edge.
posted by jjj606 at 11:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


this alone:
/worth the $5
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:33 PM on July 16, 2012


ok so when does the voyager II leave the heliosphere? I am so very excited for that!

Do you mean Voyager I? Wikipedia says probably 2014. It just recently was announced that it's entering a region consistent with the beginning of the heliopause (but from my understanding hasn't completely left the heliosheath yet).

Voyager II is moving somewhat slower (470 billion km/yr vs. Voyager's 520 billion) and also has farther to go (it's presently around 14 billion km away from the sun, according to its twitter feed); somewhere in the vicinity of 15.4 years according to my back-of-the-envelope calculation, if the heliosphere ends where the graphic says it does. Anyone who actually knows anything about this feel free to correct me.
posted by axiom at 7:26 PM on July 16, 2012


free scroll rocks this.

Ah, good catch Scientist; I thought that the straight line -> wavy line -> tighter wavy line ->... was neat. Shame about the scale jumps.
posted by porpoise at 7:30 PM on July 16, 2012


Deep zoom view of the page.
posted by rh at 9:10 PM on July 16, 2012


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