Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Powers Of Ten

Powers of Ten is a 1977 short documentary film which depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten (see also Logarithmic Scale). It was written and directed by Charles and Ray Eames. The idea for the film appears to have come from the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke.

The film begins with an aerial image of a man reclining on a blanket; the view is that of one meter across. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover, then slowly zooms out to a view ten meters across ( or 101 m in standard form), revealing that the man is picnicking in a park with a female companion. The zoom-out continues, to a view of 100 meters (102 m), then 1 kilometer (103 m), and so on, increasing the perspective—the picnic is revealed to be taking place near Soldier Field on Chicago, Illinois's waterfront—and continuing to zoom out to a field of view is 1026 meters, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in to the picnic, and then to views of negative powers of ten—10-1 m (10 centimeters), and so forth, until we are viewing a carbon nucleus inside the man's hand at a range of 10-18 meter.

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