Space is big.
November 8, 2020 3:25 PM   Subscribe

The Size of Space - from astronaut to the observable universe. A visualization by Neal Agarwal.
posted by thatwhichfalls (44 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
And I thought it was a long walk down to the chemist!
posted by nubs at 3:39 PM on November 8, 2020 [35 favorites]


Real life lore - The Universe is way bigger than you think
cued to the Pale Blue Dot quote
posted by bartleby at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2020


I stopped scrolling after the Sun to forestall the existential horror of the Total Perspective Vortex.

Man. I just love the Sun.
posted by dmh at 4:10 PM on November 8, 2020 [8 favorites]


Electric and terrifying. :-)
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:23 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


One of the most mind boggling things to me is that we have no idea how big the universe is. We roughly know how big the observable universe is, but that's just the minimum. The entirety could be infinite.

But if it's not infinite, that's where it gets weird.

Since infinite is the upper bound, you cannot assign a probability to any finite size. The chance that it's less than twice as big as the observable universe is the same as the chance that it's less than a billion, billion, billion times the size of the observable universe: infinitesimal.

And there's an infinitesimal chance that it's less than Graham's Number times the size of the observable universe is (a number so vast that if you thought of all its digits at once your head would literally collapse into a black hole).
posted by justkevin at 4:49 PM on November 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


After Sol (our star) it just became essentially meaningless to me. I stopped soon after.

(And it doesn't even consider how of all the space holding all the 'things,' from smallest to biggest, is essentially empty.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:07 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


Wow, there's a star--white dwarf star Sirius B--that's smaller than Mars! I just learned something new.
posted by mono blanco at 6:40 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


Far out.
posted by heteronym at 6:49 PM on November 8, 2020 [4 favorites]


That is so elegant. Also, lovely to look at.

And I somehow missed that Hoag's Object exists, which is a wacky thing. Not only do I think so, but sober-minded astronomers put it in a great category: peculiar galaxies.
posted by doctornemo at 6:51 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


This was a good time. I wasn’t prepared for how much bigger Saturn is than Uranus and Neptune, or how much bigger the Sun is than Jupiter, or how much smaller our sun is than many other stars.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 7:03 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


Space is Big, Space is Deep.
posted by ovvl at 7:18 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


That's about the size of it
posted by JHarris at 7:24 PM on November 8, 2020 [4 favorites]




That Hawkwind track ovvl posted sent me hurtling back to the early eighties when I used to see that band every chance I got. "Autumn is a coming in," the Old Ones would mutter. "Hawkwind'll be here soon. And then.. and then... Tangerine Dream. It's the cycle of life."
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:41 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


Jeez Metafilter, where did all your nerds who only know one song on the ukelele go? This kind of thing used to be obligatory.

Note: if you can teach this to kids, it makes a good car sing-along. Speaking of sing-alongs, I ran it on the projector before a Rocky Horror screening as a warm-up. 'In this AMAZING and EXPANDING universe' sounds good when belted by 200 voices.
posted by bartleby at 7:58 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


This was a good time. I wasn’t prepared for how much bigger Saturn is than Uranus and Neptune, or how much bigger the Sun is than Jupiter, or how much smaller our sun is than many other stars.

Things in our universe seem to be fractal in nature.
posted by geoff. at 8:06 PM on November 8, 2020


I was hoping the observable universe would wrap around to astronaut, but no such luck.
posted by storybored at 8:11 PM on November 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


My third-grader is getting very into space and space objects and he loved this. Kept asking me to scroll to various parts of it and then going "Wow, that's so big!"
posted by Scattercat at 8:42 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


Arcturus is locked out of the DHD.

Previous post on this fantastic dude who captured this amazing shot of the ISS and Sol.
posted by clavdivs at 9:04 PM on November 8, 2020


Size doesn’t matter.
posted by Phanx at 12:20 AM on November 9, 2020


I guess this could be instructive for some people, but I hated the presentation. The single-axis, linear layout obscures object relationships and the vast distances between them. At the very least, it should scroll on 2 axes, so that it is clear that I am in the center of everything.
posted by Anoplura at 12:24 AM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


Space: full of really big circles
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:55 AM on November 9, 2020


I feel like we need new names for the blackhole sizes since they were orders of magnitude different from each other but all called supermassive. Like if that's your go to.... Prolly don't Start with it. Like just assume the first one you find is just "medium black hole"

My suggested range of black hole sizes:
Regular
Teensy
Toy
Cute
7 of 9
Medium
Large massive
Extra massive large
Massively massive
Worrisomely massive
Abandon hope all ye who enter here
Here be dragons
Tim the blackhole
posted by chasles at 3:54 AM on November 9, 2020 [7 favorites]


If you want super small and super massive, check out https://waitbutwhy.com/2020/09/universe.html
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 4:09 AM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


I feel like we need new names for the blackhole sizes

I was really not prepared for Ton 618.
posted by Foosnark at 5:20 AM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]




Doctornemo: Per Wikipedia
Though ring galaxies are rare, another more distant ring galaxy ... can be seen through Hoag's Object, between the nucleus and the outer ring of the galaxy, at roughly the one o'clock position in the image shown here.
posted by Transl3y at 6:04 AM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]


I think I had a failure of imagination when looking at this visualization. It all seemed so comfortably sized to be able to fit on my laptop screen. Perhaps I need some time out with the dark sky again, squinting around the legs of Pegasus for a glimpse of the fuzzy outline of Andromeda.
posted by clawsoon at 6:06 AM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


One way to think about the size is looking at a globe. A very large globe in a library. The very thin printed layer of oceans and continents (0.02 mil?), is proportionality kinda accurate to the depth of the atmosphere on the actual earth. Any of us, very important (and some of us quite tall) people, would barely show up on the strongest electron microscope looking at the surface of the paint.
posted by sammyo at 7:03 AM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]


That was fun. I love these kinds of things.

I was kind of surprised by the relative size of the astronaut to things like the shuttle and the Saturn-V. The astronaut seemed bigger in comparison than I would have thought. Maybe it was the excursion suit that threw it off for me?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:08 AM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


It would have been nice to have our solar system in there, to get scale versus some of the massive giant stars and nebulae. Anyone know where that would fit in?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:27 AM on November 9, 2020


"...Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggling big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen; when you're thinking big, think bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real 'wow, that's big', time. It's just so big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here."
posted by me3dia at 7:38 AM on November 9, 2020 [5 favorites]


I thought we were just on a speck of dust, floating around a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling in someone’s bathroom.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:59 AM on November 9, 2020


I like how Saturn just kinda barges into frame with its giant-ass rings* like some sort of Chris Farley character.

* Notably distinct from giant ass-rings
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


That was very nice but I don’t think the observable universe should have been spinning.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2020


Are you sure?

"I am the center of this universe
The wind of time is blowing through me
And it's all moving relative to me"
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2020


Notably distinct from giant ass-rings

Right, those are around Uranus.
posted by nickmark at 3:58 PM on November 9, 2020


Did I miss the CMB Cold Spot (over a billion light years across) or was it not in there?
posted by juiceCake at 5:47 PM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]


I linked to it earlier in the thread but I wanted to bring it up again. The VFX Artist Reveals the True Scale of the Universe is a video which was done as a specific response to The Size of Space type of visualizations because of the reason that scale is difficult to see in that format and which many people in this thread are also noting. It's a neat video.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 6:00 PM on November 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


Fuck, I can't believe I missed the chance to make the Hawkwind reference, but I'm glad y'all stepped in.
posted by heteronym at 7:07 PM on November 9, 2020


I’ve seen the Ring Nebula a few times from my moderately light polluted back yard. Sagittarius is cool because in dark skies you can see it unaided, and the light left before humans walked the earth. Whoa.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:37 PM on November 9, 2020


I love this, and the video NotTheRedBaron posted.


Yes, things in the universe are bigger than our thing in the universe. What I wanna know is - why are they so big compared to what they're made up of? Why are we so much bigger than the atoms that make us? Is there some law or advantage that we have at being this size? atoms are SO small. Cells are SO small! why are we trillions of them?
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:07 AM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I worked out once that the human scale is very near the geometric mean between the Planck length and the size of the observable universe. Not sure if there’s anything to that, though.
posted by sjswitzer at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Planck life: observed space set in time.

I always think of black holes like a bag of microwave popcorn at 2:12 with tiny holes around the bag but the holes just keep letting out just enough so the bag is really just ejecting (Hawking) butter matter for an (in)finite amount of time with means to escape the microwave itself....set a 2:12...d'oh.
posted by clavdivs at 12:33 PM on November 10, 2020


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