Saturday, December 11, 2010 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The scale of the Universe

A funny zoomable illustration of scales from the Planck scale to the Hubble scale which differ roughly by 60 orders of magnitude. Note the big desert right after the string scale.

Well, the authors - Cary and Michael Huang ( - could have included some GUT scale and intermediate scales etc. but their simplified version might be morally right.

The picture above has 10^{60} times 10^{60} pixels :-) but they are cleverly compressed so that they can be squeezed into a small Flash file.

Full screen: click here.
Embedded into a page: click here.

Thanks to Peter Fellin and his nephew (whose age equals the critical dimension of superstring/M-theory but it's not clear which of them) for the URL.

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reader netudiant said...

Truly wonderful!
This should be a mandatory component for the grade school introduction to science and natural history. The kids would get a perspective that would last a lifetime.

reader Karoly said...

See also Nikon's Universcale. My 8-year-old son also found it fascinating and learnt about exponents in a very intuitive way.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Karoly, it's nice - and in some sense more professional, although not perfect.

But the microscales of Nikon are truly pathetic. They don't go beyond the QCD scale et al., claiming that the QCD scale is the cutting-edge, and moreover describing the QCD scale as the sub-nanotechnology scale.

That could be graded as D minus. ;-)

reader ThePeSla said...


I am not that impressed.

Surely one notices that the scale of a human is in the center of scales on that map.

While string theory implies super-symmetry, we can have super-symmetry without the model of string theory.

On the other hand your link to the discussion on E6 shows you are open to wider considerations of the universe (multiverse?)

Of course no one said the universe is such an isolated system. Are you accepting the third thermodynamic law as certain fact or as with math in general the only boundaries are approximations?


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear ThePeSla,

thanks for your creative comment! I am afraid you would have to send me a really good bottle of wine for me to see the relationship between the human scale's being intermediate; E_6 exceptional group; multiverse; and the third law of thermodynamics.

Without the wine, I only see four physics concepts that have nothing to do with each other - no related pair exists among the four at all. :-)

Best wishes

reader Andrew Kazyrevich said...

Hi Lubos,

Amazing flash, thanks for sharing.

One question: the flash mentions preons as quark subcomponents, and it also mentions strings.

Is that just for reference, of both theories can peacefully coexist?


reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi Andrew, the animation was cool but wasn't made by professional physicists so you can't take the details too seriously.

An answer I gave 3 days ago about preons to PseudoWitten:

Hi PseudoEd, as far as I know, there are no string-theory vacua with preons, in the old sense, and the two ideas are therefore incompatible. In fact, the word "preon" has been recycled and used for some very different objects in string/M-theory - bizarre objects of mixed dimensions that preserve a huge proportion of supercharges such as 31 out of 32 etc.

Well, it is not quite right: there are papers like this one:

They start with preons at the GUT scale, add some fluxtubes, and actually derive that there are also strings with a similar tension - but strings of many types so it is not string theory as we know it.
I personally find preons unmotivated and probably incompatible with the structure of families, flavors, and colors we observe. Unlike the case of hadrons that used to contain quarks, there doesn't seem to be a compositeness if we look at the spectrum of currently elementary particles.

reader spacelover1324 said...

This is really cool! Its amazing when you just consider the size of the pillars of creation

reader Shannon said...

I was looking for this video a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't find it !... ;-)