Perspective ought to be important to us. Yet, for all we learn about ourselves and the world around us, we hardly ever sit down and put all we’ve experienced into proper perspective. Maybe it’s the distractions of everyday life that hypnotize us into thinking the universe has the human species specifically in mind, or maybe we just don’t have the inclination to push ourselves out of the limelight. Either way, it’s important for us to stop from time to time and ponder our place in existence. Why save a good existential discovery exclusively for periods of intoxication?
With that sentiment in mind, I would like to present to you a few online tools I have stumbled on that will help put our wonderful world into perspective.
You may or may not have heard of the following items. If you haven’t, I’m happy to help you on your wonderful cosmic evening trip. If you have, I suppose the wonders of the universe will forever be a fading memory in your increasingly bleak existence (just kidding: there’s always Reddit).
1 Universe to Scale 2
Tired of seeing Jupiter ‘diva it up’ as the largest planet in our solar system? Tired of watching it revolve around the sun with its pretentious 67-moon entourage? Well, use this tool to put that smug, ketchup stained gas ball in its place.
Universe to Scale 2 is an interactive snapshot of what we can find in the universe. Beginning at the human level, you can use the slider on the bottom of the screen to zoom as far in as the theoretical quantum foam (the fabric of the universe) to the total observable universe.
That’s right, Jupiter, not so damned important now, are you?
Each object displayed has a brief description and a measurement. Having a human being be just one mundane measurement on this grand scale can be dizzying, especially when you are leaving the solar system, the galaxy and even the local group of galaxies in which we live.
2. If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel
Of course, taking the wonders of the universe and doing a celestial dick measuring contest is fun enough, but are we getting the complete picture of the universe? To find out, we must jump on yet another slider-driven adventure
If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is described as “a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system”.
(It absolutely lives up to its name.)
Beginning at our Sun, this model allows us to slide from planetary object to planetary object, with brief annotations in between. There are also automatic scroll settings, including one that brings you to the next object at the speed of light (relative to the model’s scale, of course).
What will get you is not so much the planets, but the vastness of space in between them. We often see condensed models of our solar system that portray us as much more tightly knit than we actually are. This model succeeds in driving out this notion, and the annotations creator Josh Worth leaves for us on our way keeps us in great company.
3. 78 Coins
If you something a little more life-centric with which to chase that cruise through our solar system, Josh Worth also created an interactive essay on the probability of life in the universe by the name of 78 Coins.
Granted, with this particular essay, you will get his compelling analysis one set of randomized 78 coin flips at a time. The slow pace of delivery encourages contemplation, and the constant coin flips punctuate the information remarkably.
Perhaps with these tools, you will find yourself motivated to get in touch with the universe around you. Or at least you might be motivated enough to get off your ass and do something with your day. After all, you never know when aliens may invade, and Jupiter isn’t getting any less smug anytime soon.