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 Scale of The Universe 2 (give it a minute to load)
The Universe, with relative scales. Who knew there were earthworms 7m long? Or that drinking water involves Mickey Mouse heads?
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]
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.