One vital area of science education long lacking is in getting people to understand the true vast scale of the universe in which we live. We humans, with our analog meat brains, often have trouble intuitively visualizing things that are beyond our typical day to day experience. Oh, we can bandy about the numbers and equations for the very large and very small easily enough, but trying to grasp on a visceraal level what those numbers actually mean in the real world can be quite a challenge at times.
If people understood better just how small we and our planet are, and how tiny a sliver of time we've been alive as compared to the lifetime of the universe, that perspective would help to alleviate much of the confusion and ignorance that dominate some aspects of public discourse, such as politics, climate change, evolution, space travel, and more.
This page collects links to various demonstrations of the true scale of existence from various websites, articles, animations, illustrations, and so on. If you know of such link that isn't in the list below but would like to see it included, just contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BIG PICTURE
|REFLECTIONS ON A MOTE OF DUST|
Words of wisdom about our place in the cosmos from the great Carl Sagan.
|THE PUBLIC vs THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE|
From the Orbital Vector Blog, a short essay on the public's misconceptions of scale.
|THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE|
An amazing interactive Flash animation that lets the viewer freely zoom in and out, from quantum foam to the totality of the known universe. Created by the Fotoshop.
|NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S UNIVERSE MAP|
A polished, data-packed inforgraphic.
|THE GRAND SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE|
A video clip exploring the vastness of existence through increasing powers of ten. Narrated by Morgan Freeman.
|PLANET AND STAR SIZE IN SCALE|
A video animation showing the comparative sizes of planets and stars, from smallest to biggest.
THE SOLAR SYSTEM
|SOLAR SYSTEM SCALE MODEL|
A webpage that opens a browser window half a mile wide to how you the solar system's sizes and distances to scale.
|MARS IS QUITE FAR|
Another gigantic browser window, vertical this time, showing the distance between Earth and Mars. From the webcomic SlimFigures.
|THE MARIANA TRENCH|
Ocean depths to scale. Original source unknown.
|TIMELINE OF THE UNIVERSE|
A downloadable, public-domain illustration showing the scale of time from the beginning of the universe to today.