Interactive Periodic Table

Another in my loose series of great science-imagery websites: visit http://periodictable.com/ for an illustrated, interactive Periodic Table of the Elements. Hover your mouse over any element for a picture and basic facts or click for more information and pictures. It’s more fun than it sounds, since the graphics are great and all of the information is solid but some of it is quirky. Ages: 9 – 90.

Geeks will appreciate the fact that the website’s author, Theodore Gray, is responsible for the user interface of Mathematica. He has an interesting background essay to the Periodic Table site here; as someone said, it is inspirational in a sobering kind of way.

The scale of the universe

Computers have made possible new ways of presenting information and the some of the best examples are animated graphics. I have already posted a link to NOAA’s animation of CO2 levels, for instance, and I have also recommended The Breathing Earth at various times.

The graphic I want to introduce here is not about climate-change education, though, but about acquiring a broader sense of the amazing universe we live in. I first saw a version of it a couple of years ago. It vanished after a while, as web sites do, but I’m happy to say that it’s back, better than ever.

Click here to visit The Scale of the Universe by Cary and Michael Huang on Youtube. Bookmark it, because I’m sure you will want to return.

It’s all about how big things are … not just everyday things like people and butterflies and buildings, but much much larger and smaller things like quarks and galaxies. The concept is simple – you can see relative sizes of things at any scale, and zoom in or out – but vector graphics mean you can zoom a very very very very long way in or out without losing continuity.

But it really doesn’t need any explanation. I’ll leave you to enjoy it.