From nanoparticles to galaxies, we can understand a lot about how our universe works--but it's hard to keep things in context. Can you really grasp how far you'd have to travel to reach Mars? Or wrap your head around the infinitesimally small size of a virus?
A couple of awesome animations will help. The first one, from London-based designers David Paliwoda and Jesse Williams, is an effective way to see just how far away Mars really is. It's shrunk down to a 100-pixel scale. Click here to open the animation.
When you've got Mars down, look at this incredible Flash tool created by Cary and Michael Hwang. It's from last year, and it's the second version of their "Scale of the Universe" animation, but having recently stumbled across it we found it well worth sharing.
You can scroll with a mouse or touchscreen, but I recommend using the slider at the bottom, because then you won't miss any of the lovely animated gifs--from wriggling worms to pulsating Cepheid stars. Click here to open it and enter the Scale of the Universe.