Relative Scale

I’d like to bring to your attention the most fascinating (in my opinion) visual chart I’ve come across on the web. The site ( displays the sizes of the smallest to the largest substances known to man. Using the scroll bar on the bottom of the application, you can zoom into the smallest particle imaginable. On the chart, you can see that the smallest thing visible to the naked eye is 10-4 meters long, or a little smaller than the width of a human hair. However, that is still relatively large. We can zoom in further, to the size of protons and neutrons. I was taught in school that the quark is the smallest possible particle, yet even that can be broken down into what is known as “string” and quantum foam. These bits are a whopping 10-35 m in length!

sizescaleIt’s amazing to think how large we are compared to an atom or a bacterium, but what about objects that are larger than us? It’s hard to think about how massive the earth is in comparison to us, and even harder to conceptualize the size of the sun in relation to the earth. But, if you keep zooming out, you’ll see just how small our sun is compared to other stars, and how miniscule it is when compared to nebulas. If you scroll all the way to the largest possible scale, you’ll see the size of the observable universe is only a small fraction of the entirety of space.

I think this is a great size chart to tinker around with because it gives a great scope of the universe around us. It is fascinating to me to think how everything around us, even something as enormous as our universe, can be made up of such miniscule units.

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-Luyan Lin

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