A Blog Around The Clock

The Sense of Scale

Josh Wilson finds a new (to me, at least) metaphor that puts the geological time in perspective, and Carel discovers some cool models that place the astronomical size and space in perspective. Humbling and edifying. Good ideas for science teachers.


  1. #1 fwalchak
    December 1, 2006

    Wilson’s comparison still leaves me a little fuzzy as to the tremendous size of the numbers we are talking about. The best description of large numbers that I’ve seen relates them to seconds. We get things to a human scale – almost.

    For example, One million seconds (1,000,000; 1 x 10^6) is 11 days. One billion seconds (1,000,000,000; 1 x 10^9) is 32 years. One trillion seconds (1,000,000,000,000; 1 x 10^12) is 32,000 years.

    Thus 4.5 billion years represented by seconds is a bit more than a(maximum)human lifetime. The other lesson here is the the first trillionaire is going to have an awful lot of money.