How can we understand the relative sizes of the largest and the smallest things in the universe? Two new interactive websites by British author Wyken Seagrave put these previously unimaginable objects into perspective with extraordinary clarity.
How can the average person grasp the relative size of the largest structures in the universe such as galaxies, clusters of galaxies and voids? And how can he easily compare the relative sizes of such diverse objects as atoms, molecules and cells?
These are the two problems which have now been solved on two new websites by Wyken Seagrave.
In the “Penny System” ( http://pennysystem.co.uk/ ), the whole Solar System is scaled down to the size of a penny (or any other coin 2 centimetres across). With this interactive system, anyone who uses the website www.pennysystem.co.uk can position models of universal objects at any place on the map of the Earth. These objects include an average galaxy, the Milky Way, a cluster of galaxies and a void (space between clusters of galaxies).
And the “Soccearth” model ( http://soccearth.com/index.php ) imagines a soccer ball 22 centimetres across inflated to the size of the Earth, and everything on its surface increased in size by the same scale.
Both these websites allow the visitor to move the objects around, easily comparing their sizes and positioning them anywhere on a map of the Earth to give an instant feel for their relative sizes.
These two sites are the latest addition to an arsenal of tools which Wyken Seagrave has developed during the past 20 years to help people understand where we come from, what are and how we fit into the universe around us. His earlier sites are the “History of the Universe” which tells the story of where we came from, and a “Solar System Model” which allows the visitor to plan a model located at any point on Earth, and at any scale.
The tools which Wyken has created are listed here. More information on these is given below:
- The “History of the Universe” website and ebook
- An interactive model of the Solar System (http://www.solarsystemmodel.org.uk/)
- Soccearth, a model of the smallest objects in the universe
- Time Crystal, a fictional version of the history of the universe (http://timecrystal.co.uk/)
- Enuma Elish, a video telling the story of the history of the universe (http://enumaelish.org/)
- Citizen of the Universe, where people can earn free badges (http://citizenoftheuniverse.org/)
And Wyken is not alone in believing that a broad overview of history is important. There is a world-wide movement called “Big History”, supported by the Gates foundation, which is developing and promoting school courses based on this idea.
“I am very happy to see that others are beginning to promote the study of this subject,” Wyken says. “My version of the history of the universe is more based in science than Big History, which tends to give more emphasis to human history, but our aims are similar and I have great hopes that eventually more people will see the benefit of becoming more familiar with this incredible story.”
Why has Wyken Seagrave devoted so much time and effort to writing about the history of the universe?
“There are two main reasons: spiritual and practical.
“I think it is spiritually uplifting to know something about the incredibly beautiful secrets which science has revealed about where we came from and how the world works. I agree with Richard Feynman that to understand how a flower works does not reduce the flower to the level of a boring machine, but on the contrary, it makes the flower appear even more beautiful. But more than that, I think that to understand how the flower or a butterfly or a stone got here, how we are similar to it, and in what ways we are different from it, gives us a new perspective not just on the flower but on ourselves.
“And I also think that, to cope with modern life and make decisions about the future, it is important for the average person to have a little familiarity with a wide range of basic science, from climate change to chemistry, from genetics to geology. The history of the universe delivers this understanding, showing us the links between the branches of science, and giving them structure and meaning.
“I want to provide different ways into this incredible story, both for those already interested in science and for those who have no interest at all. So I have created both factual and fictional versions of the story, and added interactive tools to let people explore for themselves.”
Information for Editors
Soccearth is a model of the smallest objects in the universe, revealed by imagining the Earth blown up to the size of a soccer ball. This model is used on the History of the Universe website.
History of the Universe
The “History of the Universe” tells the complete history of the creation and evolution of the universe from the beginning through to today, integrating a wide range of sciences into a coherent and meaningful story. It then uses the lessons of history to make some predictions about the future.
It is available as a website http://www.historyoftheuniverse.com
or as an ebook from: http://bit.ly/hotuebook
Solar System Model
This allows visitors to create a model of the universe at any location on Earth, and gives the necessary information to transform this into a real physical model.
Following a 3000 year old tradition, Wyken Seagrave retells the 21st century version of the story of creation on the spring equinox 2014 in what he plans to be an annual event.
Citizen of the Universe
By taking a simple on-line test, visitors can show they understand the basic facts about how they came to be here and become a Citizen of the Universe. They will receive a badge with their name, city and Grade of citizenship.
Time Crystal by Wyken Seagrave is perhaps the first ever attempt to cover the whole history of the universe as a work of fiction. The characters go back in time to the Big Bang and beyond, learning about how planets and stars and atoms and molecules work by actually interacting with them and solving problems in order to rescue the crystals which they need to re-start time and save the universe.
Wyken is currently working on the third volume.
Time Crystal website: www.timecrystal.co.uk
Wyken Seagrave is a British author who was born and still lives in Coventry. After gaining a degree in physics and mathematics at the University of Nottingham, he spent several years in Cambridge studying the wide range of subjects required to write the history of the Universe. Since then he has been a teacher, university lecturer, IT consultant, science communicator and is now a professional author. He is currently a staff author at Penny Press Ltd.
Wyken’s blog: http://wykenseagrave.co.uk
Wykens’s Portrait: http://bit.ly/wykensphoto
Penny Press Ltd
Independent British publishing house Penny Press (http://www.pennypress.co.uk) was founded in Coventry in 1998. It publishes information about the history of the Universe, develops websites, produces eBooks and creates IT systems through its subsidiary Penny Systems http://www.pennysystems.co.uk/
Penny Press: http://www.pennypress.co.uk
Press Room: http://pennypress.co.uk/?cat=1
Publisher: Philip Brown