Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ninth-Grader Recreates the Universe — To Scale

Did you know that the Apollo Lunar Module is bigger than a T-Rex? Or that Rhode Island is larger than most super-dense neutron stars?

Image courtesy Cary Huang/Michael Huang.
Ninth-grader Cary Huang has set out to make relative sizes in the universe a little more relatable with an online scale model of the universe. The model serves as both a virtual microscope and telescope, allowing viewers to see the relative sizes of the smallest quarks, the largest galaxy clusters, and everything in between. There are hundreds of objects to scroll through, and each one has its own quirky description.

To take a virtual tour of the universe, you can head over to Cary Huang's website or use the smaller version below.

Note: The flash player may take a few seconds to load.

Cary Huang was inspired to create the virtual universe after watching a video in seventh grade relating the size of cells, ABC News reports. Cary built the model, and his brother Michael helped him put it online.

Huang wrote a short accompanying description for each of the objects in his model. These descriptions are not only informative but also, at times, humorous and endearing. For instance, when Cary gets down to the nanoscale, he describes the Megaviruses:
The largest virus known used to be the Mimivirus, whose name I like, but it is now the Megavirus, whose name I also like. However, I do not like the viruses themselves. Did you know that in addition to being the largest, Megavirus is the virus with the longest genome?

So go ahead and explore our universe from the comfort of your own home. Maybe you'll gain a new perspective on how humans fit in between the vast and minuscule objects of our universe.

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