June 10, 2008

Powers Of Ten

In 1968 Charles and Ray Eames, a married team of innovators in architecture, design and photography, made a film for IBM called “Powers of Ten.” It is a visual exploration of the relative size of things in the universe.

Beginning with a couple on a picnic in a Chicago park on a spring day, the camera pulls away. Every ten seconds the view is ten times further away than the previous view, which is indicated by an open square. As we pull away, we move into space (exactly as it would be facing from Chicago in spring) and see the earth.


The picture of the earth was taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972. This photo was the first time in the history of the human race that the earth was seen without lines on it. No divisions, no names, just one whole planet floating in space. It was a paradigm shift that changed forever how we envision our home world.

As you continue back, the curved lines represent the orbital paths of the other planets in our solar system. Before you leave the solar system, you are moving at the speed of light. Eventually you see that we are situated in the Sagittarius Arm in the outer third of the Milky Way. The “camera” continues back until we reach a point in space where relative distance has no meaning. The film then moves forward, ultimately entering the subatomic world as we knew it at the time.

You must find the nine minutes it takes to see this video. It is one of those moments that revives the Wow Factor you remember from childhood.

2 comments:

seriouslyflippant said...

When we went past the DNA molecule and found an entirely new world of INNER space that was so much the same as the one we know from our external world, I started crying.

Somehow I always knew that.

It's so beautiful, and it makes my soul sing and all the atoms of my body vibrate at such a high level of gratitute. It fills me with wonder. Perhaps when my soul responds and the small places in me sing praise, the vast inner space of my being rings a type of heaven, picking up the hints that I hear of the song of the angels.

Thank you for this experience, Birdle.

Greg said...

Holy crap! That was absolutely amazing!!!

(Eloquent, ain't I?)