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An Interactive Scale of Everything in the Universe

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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This infographic may look modest, but it is nothing short of exceptional. A few days ago, I posted it to Twitter and it seems at least the Twittersphere agrees. Now the graphic is up on with an embed button, so of course I had to pass it along! Truly an awesome graphic in scope and execution. Go directly to the full interactive version and sail from the boundaries of the universe to stars, planets, people, ants, atoms, quarks and beyond. There’s a slightly more colorful version as well, but I miss the icons on the slider that provide a road map for where you’re going vs. where you’ve been.

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. syzygyygyzys 4:37 pm 03/28/2013

    Very cool!

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  2. 2. rloldershaw 6:13 pm 03/28/2013

    Very nice graphic on nature’s amazing hierarchy.

    One very fundamental property of nature’s hierarchy that is often not fully appreciated is its remarkable degree of stratification.

    Although the whole hierarchy appears to be quasi-continuous, encompassing nearly 80 orders of magnitude in mass, three surprisingly narrow mass ranges, each extending for only about 5 orders of magnitude, account for ≥ 99% of all mass observed in nature. These dominant mass ranges can be referred to as the Atomic Scale (particles, ions and atoms), the Stellar Scale (planetary-mass and stellar-mass objects) and the Galactic Scale (globular clusters and galaxies).

    These dominant cosmological Scales constitute the discrete self-similar scaffolding of the observable portion of the quasi-continuous hierarchy.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity/Fractal Cosmology

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  3. 3. jtdwyer 8:09 pm 03/28/2013

    Pretty cool, but I had trouble running the thing by clicking on it, until I got to

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  4. 4. jtdwyer 8:18 pm 03/28/2013

    RLO – The universal scale includes 100% of the universe’s mass, which also exists at quantum scales. There are no discrete “mass Ranges”. Of course, there is the discrete scale of your hand which, if you place it in front of your eyes, contains all the mass you can see… Whew!

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  5. 5. rloldershaw 9:49 pm 03/28/2013

    The question is: How are the integrated mass per level and the number of objects per level distributed throughout the hierarchy?

    If you put in the effort required to achieve an adequate understanding of nature’s hierarchy, you will learn that the mass and the numbers of objects per level are not distributed evenly among the myriad levels of the hierarchy.

    Here is a little challenge. Scientists know that virtually all of the mass of the universe is contributed by galaxies. Scientists also know that virtually all the mass of the universe is stellar objects. Scientists also know that virtually all the mass of the universe is in particles and ions. So can you tell us how >99% can be in the form of galaxies, how >99% can also be in stellar objects, and how >99% can also be in particles/ions?

    Hint: it has something to do with the hierarchical organization of matter.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity/Fractal Cosmology

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  6. 6. jtdwyer 10:38 pm 03/28/2013

    RLO – re. “little challenge”:
    Galaxies are composed of stellar (and many other) objects which are composed of atoms and compound particles which are composed of fundamental particles…

    The mass of a bowl of cherries is the aggregation of the mass of the bowl and individual cherries (and any other extraneous material contained within).

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  7. 7. rloldershaw 11:22 pm 03/28/2013

    The more you study nature’s hierarchy and its detailed physical properties, the more you will find that some classes of objects (atoms, stars, galaxies) are ubiquitous and play major roles in nature’s hierarchy, while others (say, slightly senile retired IT guys) are vanishingly small in terms of numbers and significance.

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  8. 8. jtdwyer 1:51 am 03/29/2013

    RLO – Shame on you!

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  9. 9. American Muse 5:09 pm 03/29/2013

    No credits were noted. That amazing interactive graphic was produced by the Huang brothers (Gary & Michael).

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  10. 10. 11:04 pm 03/29/2013

    American Muse,

    Thanks for drawing attention to the credit information. If you notice, the Huang brothers are credited with a clear copyright line in the image itself: “Copyright © 2010 Cary and Michael Huang (”

    We here at Symbiartic make it a rule to credit artists and images properly. If we ever make a mistake, we want people to let us know so we can right our wrong immediately. In this case, I did not repeat the credit line since the Huang brothers cleverly embedded it in their image from But it certainly never hurts to credit them again.

    Thanks again for sticking up for the artists… we need more people like you on the internet demanding attribution!

    Link to this
  11. 11. leif.sterner 2:51 am 03/30/2013

    Some nitpicking at the nanometer scale.

    I guess that the DNA helix and the protein alpha helix was confused the former is the smaller one.
    Also the smallest transistor seems a magnitude wrong.
    At presents Intel fabricates 22 nm size.
    The stated 2 nanometers could possibly exists in a research lab for electronics that reach the market in 10 years.

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  12. 12. bhesper 11:50 am 03/31/2013

    This reminds me of a great book by Philip & Phylis Morrison: Powers of Ten. A book about the relative size of things in the universe and the effect of adding another zero. (1982)

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