By Evan Ackerman
I’m somewhat of a scale buff. That is, I find it fascinating to think about how big, and how small, things are. The problem (and part of the appeal) is that it’s a really hard topic to wrap your brain around. For example, an atom of hydrogen is about a ten millionth of a millimeter in diameter, which is a hundred thousand thousand times larger than an electron. How do you picture that?
This webpage has taken an electron, and scaled it to the size of one pixel. The rest of a hydrogen atom, including one proton and the space between the proton and the electron, is then displayed at that scale. On a 72 DPI monitor, this webpage works out to be about 11 miles long, and that’s just the radius (the middle of the atom to the edge), as opposed to the full diameter. This webpage takes the same approach to show the scale of the solar system; it’s only half a mile long.
I say largest practical webpage because a quick Google search has revealed that the biggest webpage is actually this one; it contains some 8,100,000,000,000,000 (gasp) ,000,000,000,000,000 pixels. That’s 9 quadrillion pixels wide by 9 quadrillion pixels tall:
At 77 pixels to the inch, this page takes up 3.4e18 square miles and is 1.844 billion miles on a side– an area roughly equivalent to a section of the plane of our Solar System with the sun at the center and the orbit of Saturn on the outside edge (a square 22 AU on a side). That’s about 17 billion times the surface area of the Earth.
Now, I’m not sure what the point of that is, but I’m impressed anyway. After the jump, you can watch an old classic on this same topic: Powers of Ten.