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.
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