Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A sense of scale


In chapter 1 of volume 1 of the legendary Feynman Lectures on Physics, Feynman starts by imagining zooming in on a drop of water, past amoeba and so forth, until one can see the water molecules. Starting this way is genius. The tiny length scales and the associated invisibility of atoms and molecules is the single largest barrier to developing a chemical intuition - a barrier that molecular animation can help overcome.

I am often thought of bringing Feynman's imaginary magnification to life by animation, so I as very happy when Nathan Baker brought this site to my attention. The above screencast shows it in action, but the real fun is interacting with it yourself. It's a brilliant piece of interactive animation.

The site brought to mind the granddaddy of them all, Powers of 10, which some kind soul put up on youtube.


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