Anchor Scales

My brain has a hard time appreciating the full vastness and tinyness of things (I think it's well documented the human brains are not good at this). But when I concentrate and manage to catch a glimpse of a grok of the true scale of things, I get a wonderful feeling. It's easier to do in the middle of the desert at night, or high on an alpine mountain. Or flying. Or at sea, I would imagine. 

To help myself return to the feeling, I recently made a table for myself listing examples of length scales separated by 5 orders of magnitude or 100,000 (10^5). They're not perfect, but there's a satisfying symmetry here. 

Holding these analogous scales in my conceptualization helps me anchor my imagination (which in turn lets it roam free). So I call them anchor scales. 

(10^-15m) atomic nucleus (H) diameter H atom diameter (10^-10m) (10^-10m) H atom diameter  red blood cell diameter (10^-5m)  (10^-5m) red blood cell diameter  human body (10^0m / 1m)  (10^0m / 1m) human body Bay Area length (10^5m / 100km)  (10^2m / 100m) redwood tree earth diameter (10^7m) (10^9m) sun diameter  solar system - heliopause (10^13.5m) almost. (10^16m) outer Oort cloud / extent of Sun gravitation milkyway galaxy diameter (10^21m) (10^21m) milkyway galaxy diameter  distance to cosmic microwave background radiation (10^26m)

Prompts exclamations like:

Wait, really? That's insane. 

So that's really how much space there is in/out there? 

So that's really how tiny that is? 

I can see the Andromeda galaxy with my naked eye!

So the sun is like a red blood cell of the galaxy's Earth?

So the sun is to the universe as a hydrogen atom is to the Earth?

Oh, the universe is not that big. Oh, the universe is unimaginable.

Can we make another one for velocities?

i move at 65mph (30m/s), or like 30 (10^1.5) body lengths per second through the bay area. an RBC moving at 10^1.5 lengths per sec is moving at 10^-3.5 m/s (~0.3mm/s). which is probably closest to capillary flow. and main artery flow velocities more like flying a jet over the bay area.


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