Fractals in Space

another wave

107 m. – Earth

109 m. – Distance covered by the speed of light, in a second

1010 m. – Earth’s orbit

1011 m. – Solar System

1013 m. – Oort cloud of comets and other objects

1015 m. – Constellations

1016 m. – A light-year

1017 m. – Visually, stars appear to converge

1018 m. – Further out into the Milky Way

1020 m. – Milky Way spiral arm

1021 m. – Whole galaxy

1022 m. – A million light-years

1022 m. – Whole galaxies

1024 m. – 100 million light-years and the empty dust of space


10-1 m. – Skin

10-2 m. – Pore, blood vessel

10-4 m. – Capillary

10-5 m. – White blood cell

10-6 m. – DNA

10-7 m. – The double helix itself

10-8 m. – Atomic scale

10-9 m. – Hydrogen atom

10-10 m. – Electron cloud

10-11 m. – Inner space, carbon nucleus

10-14 m. – Quarks


Dan heard the cell phone alarm; he swiped the red ‘X’ on the phone screen up to end the din. He sat up in the bed for a few moments. One beat, two beats. The cold, from the other side of the wall, hit him in the chest this time. He struggled to get the wet shirt off, as it dried, fresh with the sweat of last night’s sleep, restless, chopped-up dreams, after lying in bed for hours, unable to capture a minute of rest.

He put on his workout clothes, for his morning run, and routine at the local gym. It was his winter gear, the close-fitting, heat-insulating, pants and shirt, the wool cap. Ankle hurt, knee ached, elbow still swollen; he ignored all these complaints. He packed his bag swiftly, toiletries for the showers, clothes for work. Brushed his teeth, with the electric brush. Struggled to zip up the bag. Out the door. Check for keys. Make sure he didn’t leave the gas on.

Outside there was a blood-red, maroon shadow on the moon: a lunar eclipse. Dan stopped and took a cellphone picture. His chest swelled; today was the day to ask for a raise.


See also: Powers of 10 (1977) and the Simpsons version.

Related: Power laws and our understanding of the universe.

Many thanks to Kit Wren and the amazing writers of Tumblewords.