Eleven miles of scrolling...
August 29, 2006 8:52 PM   Subscribe

"A Hydrogen Atom is only about a ten millionth of a millimeter in diameter, but the proton in the middle is a hundred thousand times smaller, and the electron whizzing around the outside is a thousand times smaller than THAT. The rest of the atom is empty. I tried to picture it, and I couldn't. So I put together this page - and I still can't picture it." Awesome illustration on perspective and particles - *warning* very wide page, may be dangerous to your browser. Also, the relative size of planets (via the always interesting 37signals blog.)
posted by rsanheim (26 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
My first FPP after many years of lurking.

Also, Betelgeuse and Antares are really massive.
posted by rsanheim at 8:54 PM on August 29, 2006


I got the same thing that the page's author mentioned; only a few screens. Along these same lines, try out the world population.
posted by mabelstreet at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


You know someone actually dis an experiment where they fired a single electron at a single proton. The experiment proved that the proton was made up of smaller particles.
posted by delmoi at 9:06 PM on August 29, 2006


To give you a sense of the scale, I clicked and held to scroll to the right for twenty seconds. Maybe made it about 3% of the way across.
posted by rsanheim at 9:07 PM on August 29, 2006


Oh, also in the standard model of quantum mechanics the Electron actually has no size at all. The standard classical electron size is based on it's mass and charge ratio, or something like that. But there's no reason to believe that an electron has any "size" in any real sense.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 PM on August 29, 2006


Now we need a page that compares the relative sizes of an electron to Antares.
posted by JWright at 9:11 PM on August 29, 2006


The wikipedia article on the electron is very informative.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on August 29, 2006


In the same spirit, here is a time line of evolution.

There is also a page made big for the hell of it.

And one more - the solar system to scale.
posted by scodger at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2006


And it gets weirder! When you get down to the quantum level, you find that a proton (as he shows) looks exactly like Neptune!

Maybe that one pixel is actually Voyager 2?
posted by intermod at 9:30 PM on August 29, 2006


This is my favorite Metafilter FPP *EVER*.

I learned something mindbending and new.

Now to re-evaluate reality.

Wow.
posted by unSane at 9:32 PM on August 29, 2006


That page gave me chills. Real chills.

*brrr*

Great link, thanks.
posted by mediareport at 9:35 PM on August 29, 2006


Excellent post. Will use for my gen chem class!
posted by lalochezia at 9:36 PM on August 29, 2006


Here's another way of looking at it.
posted by tellurian at 9:36 PM on August 29, 2006


Moreover, my rudimentary understanding of subatomic particles is that they are literally inconceivable, except as mathematical equations with predictive power. They are described as things that either exhibit all the characteristics of a particle, or all the characteristics of a wave, depending on how you, the observer, are observing. Thus, we lay people can only think about such bizarre entities in terms of what they are like, according to the math (tiny planets, say, or minuscule waves) and not what they actually are, since what they actually are has no parallel in our experience. Recent experiments in which particles have been demonstrated to appear in two places at the same time confirm that we are dealing not with blue spheres or yellow pixels, but with the ineffable
posted by haricotvert at 9:48 PM on August 29, 2006


Sorta double. The second link is in the comments somewhere. Great links nonetheless.
posted by pantsrobot at 10:04 PM on August 29, 2006


You know someone actually dis an experiment where they fired a single electron at a single proton. The experiment proved that the proton was made up of smaller particles.
posted by delmoi

And someone else did a project where they stuffed people in a rocket and shot them at the moon.
posted by zennie at 10:07 PM on August 29, 2006


I strongly recommend reading Feynman's Q.E.D. to get a vague grasp on what these particles are 'like'.

I came away with a totally different understanding of particle physics, and specifically particle interaction. Feynman's most striking insight is to find a way of eliminating the timeline from the description of how the particles interact, so you get a picture of the universe as this huge standing wave of interacting probabilities, from which the properties of everyday matter (eg, at the simplest, the way light reflects from a mirror) arise.

Cosmic! Truly.
posted by unSane at 10:10 PM on August 29, 2006


Now we need a page that compares the relative sizes of an electron to Antares.
posted by JWright


We need a dynamic page that compares GW's self esteem/worth over time with the relative size of an electron.
posted by porpoise at 10:11 PM on August 29, 2006


We need a dynamic page that compares GW's self esteem/worth over time with the relative size of an electron.

Pretty safe to say his ego is a lot bigger than 11 miles across... do you really want to do that much scrolling?
posted by fusinski at 10:37 PM on August 29, 2006


Bit of a self-link, sorry, but I toured the scale model of the solar system in Peoria, IL, and then created a googlemaps API for it..
posted by hypersloth at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


When you get down to the quantum level, you find that a proton (as he shows) looks exactly like Neptune!

The trouble with Metafilter. Whenever you notice something funny, somebody else has already pointed it out.
posted by fungible at 10:45 PM on August 29, 2006


You can sort of assign a size to an electron by using its wavelength, but this will be dependent on its energy. And I'm pretty sure that in the hydrogen atom you won't be finding that it's a thousand times smaller than a proton.
posted by edd at 12:30 AM on August 30, 2006


Also: Powers of Ten
posted by blue_beetle at 6:12 AM on August 30, 2006


Cool. The population page is pretty aweinspiring too. I was scrolling and thinking that I was getting somewhere and then got the the 1 million mark. Crazy.
posted by OmieWise at 6:14 AM on August 30, 2006


Great post, raised to even greater greatness by the links people have provided in the comments!

Sorta double. The second link is in the comments somewhere.


No, no, no. It's only a double if it's been posted to the front page as a front page post. Capeesh? Comments are fair game; in fact, people often say of something mentioned in a comment "you should make that into a post."

Bit of a self-link, sorry

It's also perfectly OK to self-link in comments (although obviously people will raise their eyebrows, and eventually drag you to MetaTalk, if that's pretty much all you do). Posts and comments are entirely different creatures.
posted by languagehat at 6:24 AM on August 30, 2006


Not to nitpick, but the second link is a double. It's not part of the comments, it's the main link in this FPP.

This is not a call out in any way. I love the link, (so much so that I referenced it here just 3 hours ago)

The hydrogen link is also super cool, thanks rsanheim.
posted by quin at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2006


« Older Oakland's Taco Trucks:...  |  We've all got one...... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments