Science The size of the universe 


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How 'big' is the universe?  Scale is always a problem in trying to convey information about the modern world and its immense size.  We live in Newton's world and all of us have trouble comprehending our scale relative to the very large and the very small.

The Bruce County Museum and Community Centre has lectures that are outreaches from the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. (to view past public lectures click here) When viewing  them, it is always wise to ask yourself what scale is this lecture all about?

The lecture will often 'bounce' back and forth between three scales and sometimes will stay in only one.  The three scales are:

  • Human scale which is the scale of our experience.

  • Cosmological scale which is the scale of the galaxy and beyond to the bounds of the universe.

  • Quantum scale which is the scale inside the atom and below.

A friend of the Saugeen & Kincardine Times recently sent in an interesting link that allows the viewer to move from the very small to the very large.  It's an interesting visual.  It will load in a few seconds and there will be a horizontal slider.  Click 'Play' and move the slider to the far left and slowly move it to the far right.  You will see all the objects in the universe in their scale.  About mid-way, you will be at a grain of sand.

To view the size of the universe, click here

The picture shown above depicts the Lorentz Transformation, crucial to Einstein's special and general relativity.  It is shown in the complex plane in order to view the transformation, if time travel were possible.  The scale shown is cosmological.


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Friday, October 29, 2010