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The Observable Universe

Before we follow the evolution of the universe, then the solar system and the earth, with life appearing and eventually becoming us, let’s pause for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

Think of a glass sphere two meters in diameter, something which would cover your field of view should you stand close to it. All the known galaxies are inside it, indicated by 170,000,000,000 tiny little dots, one 10th of a millimeter across. It would look like a snow globe with very, very small specs of snow.

At the time of writing I am working to build such a sculpture, 2 meters in diameter using rapid prototyping techniques to indicate the 400,000 galaxies as have mapped. The project will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and will be funded through crowed sourcing on the internet, perhaps through kickstarter.com. So far it’s been difficult finding manufacturers for this job even at such a high budget.

The dots indicating the galaxies would be featureless tiny little dots, so very tiny, but here is the kicker:

The 2 meter diameter globe is 465,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 scale.

As will be described on the plinth it will be displayed on: At this scale our milky way galaxy is in reality 0.000,215 millimeters in diameter but the smallest detail the manufacturing can present with current technology is 0.1 millimeters so the dots in the sphere will be 500 times larger than the galaxies actually are  – to see a galaxy in the size of a 10th of a millimeter dot the sculpture would need to be a kilometer in diameter.

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