All those beautiful illustrations of the solar system and planetary orbits we find in textbooks, and books about space aren't really to scale. If the orbits were to scale then most of the planets would be too small to see in the image. So two guys decided to build and film a proper scale model of the solar system, out in the desert. [more inside]
How Adam Savage became obsessed with building a scale model of the maze from Kubrick's film The Shining. The Making Of and The Making Of The Making Of (both SLYT). [more inside]
If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is a tediously accurate model of the Solar System that Josh Worth made to explain to his daughter just how difficult it is to go on holiday to Mars.
Egyptian startup culture vs. Silicon Valley: how to lock down bugfixes & VC funding in midst of military takeover? Via
Experience just how big the Universe is, using this interactive graphic made by 14-year-old Cary Huang. Click on individual objects for factoids.
The pressure of a human bite is about 1/9th of the atmospheric pressure on Venus. The fastest bacterium on earth is just outstripping the fastest glacier. A square meter of sunshine in the spring imparts about 1 horsepower. [more inside]
Pitch Battles: How a paranoid fringe group made musical tuning an international issue.
The petition had its origins in one of the strangest conflicts to have overtaken classical music in the past thirty years, and many of these luminaries were completely unaware of what they’d gotten themselves into. The sponsor of both the petition and the conference that featured Tebaldi was an organization called the Schiller Institute, dedicated to, among other things, lowering standard musical pitch. ... But behind this respectable front lurks a strange mélange of conspiracy, demagoguery, and cultish behavior. At its founding in 1984, its chairman Helga Zepp-LaRouche laid out the Institute’s role in surprisingly apocalyptic termsOriginally published at The Believer.
Avogadro Project - The International Avogadro project relates the kilogram to the mass of a fixed number of atoms by measuring the number of atoms in a sphere of silicon. I'll leave this here.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure please behold Leviathan [click image to advance to next image], a work by Anish Kapoor at the Grand Palais in Paris. Contemporary Art Blog link here. [more inside]
Hey Jude in Minor Scale. Smells Like Teen Spirit in Major Scale. The Final Countdown in Major. Beat It in Major. Losing My Religion in Major.
Economies of Scale is a free, web-based multiplayer business/commerce simulation game under development by Scott Rubyton (aka Ratan Joyce). Players use starting capital to build production/wholesale/retail businesses from the ground up in a basic economic model, competing for market share while collaborating through business-to-business trading of goods and materials. It's more fun than getting an MBA! Also much less expensive. [more inside]
The Scale of The Universe 2 (give it a minute to load)
Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova (called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf stars. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played: The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter. The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale. The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
What if other planets in the Solar System orbited Earth at the same distance as the Moon? (SLVimeo) Full screen highly recommended.
The Universe, with relative scales. Who knew there were earthworms 7m long? Or that drinking water involves Mickey Mouse heads?
The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla has prepared a scale image of every asteroid and comet ever visited by a spacecraft. [more inside]
Cool app lets you zoom in from a coffee bean to a carbon atom, so that you can compare sizes. Along the way, you see a grain of sand, a skin cell and many other tiny things. This is the first time I've ever had a sense of these objects' sizes. Cells are actually bigger than I thought they were. I wish the zoomer would keep going. I want to see some sub-atomic particles on the scale.
One of the hardest things for people to understand about the universe is just how big it is. There are three approaches typically used in describing its size. The first, the song, was pioneered by Monty Python (NSFWish, wireframe of naked woman) and then done just as masterfully by the Animaniacs. The second, the zoom method has been featured twice before here on the blue. The third method is the comparison method (skip to 1:30, unless you like looking at a image of the solar system with terrible distorted orbits), yielding some truly beautiful videos (this one found via the fantastic Bad Astronomy blog). These videos go, at most, as far as looking at the local cluster or the Virgo Supercluster. There are two videos that attempt to show the size of the entire universe, one unsuccessfully (although with great music) and one successfully. (Warning, all links except the first one, are to YT videos). [more inside]
Nanoreisen. "A virtual discovery journey into the worlds of micro- and nano-cosmos." [flash] A kind of thematic followup to this.
The universe [flash]. I know, it's on a corporate site, and you have to sit through some pretentious Japanglish while it loads, but being able to use your mousewheel to scroll from femtometers up to the 100 billion lightyear scale is dazzling. I love cosmic zooms. Remember to pray that there's intelligent life in space, because there's bugger-all down here on Earth, except for folks like Metafilter's own kokogiak, who shows us everything in the solar system bigger than 200 miles in diameter.
The Bohlen-Pierce scale is a musical scale which has thirteen notes spread evenly across one and a half octaves, so that the highest note is three times the frequency of the lowest. Compare with the western twelve-tone scale, which has twelve notes spread evenly across one octave, where the highest note is twice the frequency of the lowest. Both are tempered scales, and both have close approximations to 'just intonations', meaning you could play the scales by plucking a string clamped at certain ratios like 1/2, 1/4, 5/3, etc. One of the independant co-inventors of the scale, John Pierce, was also a famous electrical engineer best known for inventing the communications satellite. You can listen to Pachelbel's Canon(midi link) rewritten in this scale.
Here's an interesting series of scale/perspective images showing what all the water on Earth (1.4087 billion cubic kilometres of it), including sea water, ice, lakes, rivers, ground water, clouds, etc. would look like in comparison to the total spherical area of the Earth, and then again showing All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes of it) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. Both illustrations shown on the same scale as the Earth. via