Monday, April 9, 2012

Keeping Things in Perspective

Most of my schooling days are a blur of taking copious notes and teachers telling me, "you're going to need to know this when you're older." I don't remember much else besides that. I do have many of those notebooks in a box in our crawlspace, maybe one day I'll read them.

However, there are a few teaching moments of elementary, junior high and high school that stick out to me. I remember Mr. Whitehead teaching us how to multiply numbers with his big multiplication chart. We reenacted the trial of Joe Hill in Mr. Puzey's class. I remember Coach Harris shattering a banana that had been dipped in liquid nitrogen. And I remember half-watching a live birth on The Miracle of Life video in Mrs. Fomby's science class. *shudder*

I also remember an old 70s video I watched in one of my science classes, although I can't remember which teacher or class it was. All I remember is that it blew my mind. It's called Powers of Ten, and the video starts by showing a man on a blanket and then zooms out to the farthest reaches of space - then it zooms back in to the man and continues to zoom in down to the sub-molecular level. It put things in perspective for me. I suddenly realized how much more there was out there beyond myself and my needs.

As the years went by, things would occasionally remind me of that video I saw in school. The ending to Men in Black did it. Watching a video on dust mites did it. And this interactive website sent in by, alert reader, Ted did it once again. It's called The Scale of the Universe 2 and it was created by Cary and Michael Huang. Check it out:

Make sure to zoom both out AND in as far as you can. And if you don't know what something is (like Uluru or a Quark), click on it to get more information.

Take your time.

I'll wait.

. . . .

Now, how do you feel? I felt small and insignificant on the grand scale of things, but then I also felt wonder and amazement about how much works goes into making me what I am. It's an odd mix of emotions, and it's the same feeling I got while watching Powers of Ten years ago.

Also, if you zoom in or out really fast and stick your arm forward, it feels like you're flying like Superman. Not that I've done that or anything. . .

No comments: