How Big is Our Universe?

Powers of Ten, a short film by Charles and Ray Eames from 1977, is considered one of the best pieces of science communication ever done. The following is a synopsis of the original film:

Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the Universe. Every ten seconds, we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our galaxy is visible, only as a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward — into the hand of the sleeping picnicker — with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell.

As a tribute, the BBC and particle physicist Brian Cox have collaborated to make an updated version of Powers of Ten that considers everything we’ve learned about the Universe in the 45 years since the film was released. The new movie zooms out to the outer limits of our existing observational capabilities, to around 100 billion light-years away, and is 1000 times broader than the original film. They should have included the zoom-in portion of the movie as well.

Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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