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From Macro to Micro

We often look up to the stars and think of the immensity and vastness of space, but it can make us forget that there is a whole other universe on the micro level. If we look down, closer and closer, we might be able to catch a glimpse of the surface, but if we want to really look at the smallest things in the universe – we need special equipment (or an easy and fun presentation).

Let’s dive down into the smallest building blocks of this universe of ours…

This is our home - Planet Earth

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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The Earth is a giant ball of water and dirt, laying on top a core of molten iron. Earth’s circumference is 40,000 kilometers (24,860 mi), with a surface area of 510,072,000 kilometers (316,944,046 mi).

The largest natural structure on earth - Great Barrier Reef

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

Source: NASA

Located off the eastern coast of Australia, the size of the Great Barrier Reef is 344,400 sqkm (133,000 sqmi). It is the world’s largest coral reef, and is visible from space!

The largest natural formation - Grand Canyon

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

Source: Nasa

Formed by the Colorado River for millions of years, the Grand Canyon is 446 km (277 mi) long.

The largest man-made structure – The Great Wall of China

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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The Chinese started building defensive walls to ward off Mongolian incursions as early as the 8th-century B.C.E. During the Qin dynasty reign, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the building of a wall, connecting all the previously-built fortifications. This was the earliest incarnation of the Great Wall. The wall was extended and fortified to the size we know today by the Mind dynasty in the 14th-century C.E. It is 8,850 km (5,500 mi) long and is not visible from space.

The highest point on Earth – Mt. Everest

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Located in Nepal, at 8,848 meters (29,029 ft.) above sea level, Mt. Everest is the highest point on Earth.

The tallest man-made building – Burj Khalifa

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

Standing at 829.8 m (2,722 ft.), the world’s tallest building is located in Dubai.

Largest tree – Giant Redwood

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Endemic to North America, the tallest tree (called “Hyperion”) is a 115.55 meters (379.1 ft.) Giant Sequoia. These trees are also some of the oldest living creatures in the world, with the oldest one estimated at over 3,500 years old.

Largest living animal – Blue Whale

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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The Blue Whale is the largest living animal, with a length of 30 meters (98 ft.). These giants of the deep eat krill (tiny kind of shrimp-like crustaceans).

Largest land animal – African Elephant

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

The bull African Bush Elephant can reach a size of 5 meters (16 ft.) and weigh as much as 6,048 kg (13,330 lb).

Humans

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Us, the dominant species on Earth. Humans have an average size of 1.7 meters (5.5 ft.)

Smallest mammal - Etruscan shrew

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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These tiny rodents are the smallest mammals, reaching a size of 4 cm (1.6 in).

Smallest Ant – Pharaoh Ant

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Their size is a mere 2 millimeters (0.07 in)

Smallest animal - Stygotantulus stocki

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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This tiny crustacean is smaller than 0.1 millimeters (0.004 in). You can fit more than 20 of these on the world’s smallest ant…

A single human hair

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Seen here at x200 magnification, the width of human hair is just 100 micrometers (0.003 in) and are some of the smallest things still visible to the naked eye.

Human skin cell

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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At 35 micrometers (0.001 in), these tiny cells cover every inch of our body, protecting us from disease and external damage.

Red blood cell

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

These beauties keep us alive by transporting oxygen to all of our organs and removing CO2. The size of a human blood cell is 7 micrometers.

Largest Virus - Megavirus

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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This nasty piece of work is just 440 nanometers in size. 15 of these bad boys can comfortably ride a red blood cell…

Smallest Virus -Porcine circovirus

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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This tiny terror’s size is barely 17 nanometers.

Carbon nanotubes

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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Measuring 1 nanometer in width, these tiny tubes are considered to be the next “miracle material”, thanks to their durability, conductivity and strength.

Water molecule

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe
From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe H2O (Hydrogen Dioxide) – 1 Hydrogen atom bonds with 2 Oxygen atoms, and that is how water is made. Each molecule is 280 picometers, so 3 of those can fit on one carbon nanotube with some room to spare.

Helium atom

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

This noble gas fills your birthday balloons, making them lighter than air. It can also raise the pitch of your voice if you inhale it. 1 helium atom is 25 picometers in size.

Neutrons & Protons

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

The center of an atom, called the “Nucleus”, is comprised of protons and neutrons. Each is 1 femtometer in size. (There are 1000 femtometers in a picometer)

Quarks 

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

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There are 6 kinds of Quarks – Up, Down Strange, Charm, Top, and Bottom. They are the building blocks of protons and electrons. They range between the size of 1 attometer (0.001 femtometer) and 100 yoctometers (0.0001 attometer). In the image above, you see a proton, comprised of two “Up” and one “Down” quarks.

Neutrinos

These subatomic particles are 1 yoctometer long - that’s 0.00000000000000000004 inches). Every second, 65 billion neutrinos pass through every cubic centimeter of earth that is in direct sunlight. Neutrinos cannot be detected directly, and are only found by using high-energy underground detectors.

Quantum foam

From Macro to Micro - The Other Side of The Universe

Also known as the “Fabric of Space and Time”. This hypothesized “foam”, the building block of the universe, is said to be as small as 0.00000000001 yoctometers.

Want to try an interactive trip from the atomic level to the universal level?

Check out this page.

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