5 Images of Awe-Inspiring Scale

Human perception isn’t always reliable, especially when dealing with objects of extreme size. Our brains, as powerful as they are, simply have a hard time conceiving of the immense (or minuscule) size of some things. Our minds warp reality and re-shape it in a way that’s easy for us to conceive.

Below are five images which demonstrate the true scale of objects and locations on the earth and in nearby outer space. Get ready to say “whoa.”

1. The biggest animal ever is alive today

We all know that some dinosaurs were absolutely huge, but did you know that the biggest animal to ever exist on earth is living today? It’s the blue whale. Here’s how it compares to the largest dinosaurs and the largest land mammal, the elephant.

2. The deepest point in the ocean

How deep in the ocean do you think blue whales swim? All the way to the bottom? Halfway down? If you’re like me, your guess is way wrong.

The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean (near Guam) is the deepest known part of the earth’s oceans. It reaches a depth of around 36,000 feet, or just under 7 miles (11 kilometers). It’s deeper than Mount Everest is tall. The pressure at this depth is about 1,100 times the pressure on the earth’s surface–enough to crush a titanium-hulled submarine like a flimsy soda can.

Blue whales only dive to a depth of about 300 feet. Frankly, we don’t know much about what’s found at the very bottom of the ocean because we simply haven’t been able to explore that deep. Avatar director James Cameron took a specially-designed submarine there recently and he found a whole lot of nothing.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

3. The volume of all the earth’s water

About 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. As I said above, the ocean is so deep that only a tiny portion of it has truly been explored by humans. Yet, if you collected all the water on the planet (including the water that’s frozen in glaciers and icecaps), it would only be as big as that tiny, blue sphere on the image below.

Looking at the graphic below really your some perspective on just how valuable a resource fresh water really is. Remember: the vast majority of water on earth is salt water and not suitable for drinking. Only about 4 percent of the earth’s water is non-saline–and most of that is currently frozen at one of the poles.

4. How far away is the moon?

If the earth was a basketball and the moon was a baseball, how far apart do you think the two objects would be from each other? Most people guess about a foot or two, but the real answer is about 24 feet! This video does a good job demonstrating it. The earth is roughly 7900 miles (12,740 km) in diameter and the moon’s diameter is about 2150 miles (3474 km). The average distance between the two isĀ 235,000 miles (380,000 km).

It’s crazy to think that we succeeded in sending men to the moon–and we did it in 1969. No other human has been farther from the earth than the Apollo astronauts were as they rocketed through space in a capsule with less computing power in it than most modern dishwashers. Pretty incredible.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

5. Atoms are really freakin’ small

The size of a hydrogen atom relative to the diameter of a penny is roughly the same as the size of a penny relative to the moon. There are more atoms in a drop of water than grains of sand on earth. And atoms aren’t even the smallest thing we’ve observed–there are quarks and leptons, and even some postulated particles that are even smaller.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

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