Our Universe, One Picture
“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding.” Carl Sagan spoke those words in the opening minutes of his Cosmos television series. An appreciation for the immensity of the universe can only be presented in the abstract due to the limitations of the human brain. One such presentation was brought to our attention late last year from Kelly Dickerson over at Tech Insider. She introduces us to Pablo Carlos Budassi, a musician with a gift for abstraction on a cosmic scale. Pablo, when he’s not making music, makes hexaflexagons (very cool artwork in their own right.). It inspired him to, ultimately, create this illustration of the observable universe in one disk. Dickerson writes:
Our sun and solar system are at the very center of the image, followed by the outer ring of our Milky Way galaxy, the Perseus arm of the Milky Way, a ring of other nearby galaxies like Andromeda, the rest of the cosmic web, cosmic microwave background radiation leftover from the big bang, and finally a ring of plasma also generated by the big bang.
Logarithms help us make sense of huge numbers, and in this case, huge distances. Rather than showing all parts of the universe on a linear scale, each chunk of the circle represents a field of view several orders of magnitude larger than the one before it. That’s why the entire observable universe can fit inside the circle. Budassi got the idea after making hexaflexagons for his son’s birthday one year.
An incredible work of art which, dare I suggest, that Carl Sagan would have approved.