From Macroscopic to Microscopic to the Majestic

in science •  2 years ago


Let’s start with YOU and the macroscopic view.  You may be having breakfast, or at work, or in a restaurant, or visiting a friend—no matter where you are or what you are doing, we’ll begin with YOU.  The earth, the one you’re standing on in terms of mass is 85,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that’s 85 with twenty one zeros times larger than you!  But what on earth does that number look like? 

One way to start grasping the size of the number is to think about a Thousand having 3 zeros.  A  Million, 6 zeros.  A Billion has 9 zeros.  A Trillion has 12 zeros.  A Quadrillion has 15 zeros.  A Quintillion has 18 zeros.  And a Sextillion has 21 zeros.  So the earth is eighty five Sextillion times larger than you! 

Maybe like me you lost it after the trillion mark.  Now lets try understanding your size compared to the earth by visualizing things we already know.  For instance, the current estimated population of the earth in 2016 is 7.4 billion.  And only in terms of physical space, the entire population of the earth could easily, with ample standing room, fit in the state of Texas!  Or an even better comparison, I once heard a mathematician say it was easier to imagine the earth to human size ratio by thinking about the size of Mount Everest as the size of the earth, and a single cubic crystal of table salt as being you!  

Now that we’ve established the size of the earth compared to you, how big is the sun compared to the earth?  Let’s first think about what a million looks like. We know the length of a one dollar bill is 6.14 inches.  One million dollar bills laid end to end would be 96.6 miles long.  That is roughly the distance to drive from Philadelphia to New York City about a two hour drive on I-95.  The length of one billion one dollar bills laid end-to-end measures 96,900 miles. This would extend around the earth almost 4 times.  The length of one trillion one dollar bills laid end-to-end measures 96,906,656 miles. This would exceed the distance from the earth to the sun.  Now that you have a better sense of how big those last three number are, keep them in mind as we continue to compare sizes moving out into space.  

So again, how big is the sun compared to the earth?  Our sun is so big you could fit 1,300,000 (1.3 million) planet earths inside!  That’s pretty big!!  That giant orange ball boiling away out in space keeps us alive!!  In its simplest form--plants, through photosynthesis, convert sunshine into sugar, plants are consumed by animals for energy, and animals are consumed by people.  If no sun, then no plants, no animals, no people--simple as that.

Moving on up!  How big is our Solar System, the sun together with all the planets and other bodies that revolve around it, compared to the earth?  Our Solar System is about 36,000,000,000 (36 billion) times larger than the earth!  The next largest body is the Local Group, this is the galaxy group that includes our Milky Way, and it is 5,000,000 (5 million) times larger than our Solar System.  And the Virgo Supercluster, a mass concentration of galaxies, is eleven times larger than the Local Group.  Still larger is the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex, a complex of galactic superclusters, is twelve times larger than the Virgo Supercluster.

Ah! The Observable Universe, the totality of all known or supposed objects and phenomena throughout space is estimated to be ten time larger than the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex!  

WAIT! What’s this!!  On NASA’s website:  October 13, 2016, “Hubble [a telescope in space] Reveals Observable Universe Contains 10 Times More Galaxies Than Previously Thought.”  Wow, the Observable Universe is bigger still!!

Now that we’re out on the edge of the Observable Universe, let’s head back . . .

                                                                             Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex

                                                                                             Virgo Supercluster

                                                                                               The Local Group

                                                                                                   Solar System

                                                                                                       Our Sun



                                                                                       Do you feel pretty small?  

Yet, within you is another universe at the microscopic level!  You may feel small but in reality you are a lean mean massive universe!!

Your body is made up of approximately 78 organs, depending on definition.  The largest organ is your skin that holds everything together, and that varies in size considerably from person to person!  The smallest organ in your body is the Pineal Gland buried deep down in the middle of your brain and is part of your body’s biological clock.  It’s about the size of a grain of rice.  Now lets think in terms of the individual cells that make up your body from skin to Pineal Gland.

According to a 2016 study, the average male is made up of 30,000,000,000,000 (30 trillion) cells!!  

Before we continue let’s imagine how large a number 30 trillion really is—One mathematician puts it like this: 1 million seconds is about 11.5 days, 1 billion seconds is about 32 years while a trillion seconds is equal to 32,000 years.  So, 30 trillion seconds is equal to 960,000 years!  That’s a lot of cells in your body!!  And they all work together!

Swooping in with our microscope, lets look at a single skin cell.  A human hair is about 45 micrometers wide and a skin cell is about 30 micrometers wide, so a skin cell is a bit smaller than the width of a human hair.  Inside that single skin cell there are a bunch of amazing systems called organelles, but we’ll just focus on the nucleus the heart of the cell.  The nucleus is about 10 micrometers across and four of them would fit comfortably across the width of our human hair.

The cell nucleus contains the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the cell, all the genetic information needed is in there to create another YOU.  The nucleus among other things includes what are called DNA Base Pairs, and without getting too technical with human genetics, there are about 3, 000,000,000 (3 billion) of them in a single nucleus in a single skin cell.  Imagine if one DNA Base Pair was the size of a green pea, the kind you eat with salt and butter.  3 billion green peas would fill up 300 average sized homes from basement to attic with green  peas!  

Now one DNA base pair is made up of approximately 204,000,000,000 (204 billion) atoms.  Taking one of those 204 billion atoms we’ll focus on the carbon atom.  The Carbon atom is a common human body building block that makes up a little more than 18% of our body composition.  An atom, the smallest unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element, has a nucleus made up of neutrons and protons—often depicted as a cluster of two different colored little round balls.  If you enlarged the atom to the size of the earth, the nucleus would only be about 200 feet wide.  So the nucleus of an atom is pretty tiny!

Diving into the nucleus, we’ll look at a single proton.  Inside the proton are smaller particles called quarks, and quarks are roughly 2,000 times smaller than a proton.  Now we’re into the field of Quantum Chromodynamics where scientists have found that quarks are held together by even smaller particles called gluons.  Gluons are known as “force carriers” and may be the strongest force in the universe!  And some scientists that work with giant colliders think that these subatomic particles may be made up of even smaller subatomic particles!!

The microscopic description above was from looking at an infinitesimally small fraction of only one skin cell out of the 30 trillion cells of your body!  

You are truly a universe unto yourself!!

Now let’s hit reverse!






                                                                                        DNA Base Pairs

                                                                                        DNA Molecules

                                                                                            Cell Nuclei

                                                                                             Skin Cells


                                                                                             You, yes You!


                                                                                              Our Sun

                                                                                           Solar System

                                                                                       The Local Group

                                                                                     Virgo Supercluster

                                                                    Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex

                                                     Now we are at the edge of the Observable Universe!

                                               And what could possibly be beyond the Observable Universe?

More space?  And if so, what is beyond that?

Genesis Chapter 1 & 2 has the answer, now I’m paraphrasing and summarizing . . .  “In the beginning, God created . . . Everything!”  

And who or what is God?  How did God describe Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14?  

As Gill in his Exposition of the Bible so eloquently puts it . . . 

“And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM,.... This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, it includes all time, past, present, and to come; 

and the sense is, 

not only I AM what I AM at present, 

but I AM what I have been, 

and I AM what I shall be, 

and shall be what I AM.” 

When I think about the macroscopic, and the microscopic, and how all those diverse systems move together in sync, whether within your body or in the cosmos surrounding you, the word that comes to my mind is MAJESTY!!  

It is all majestic, coordinated by a conductor who knows how to guide such diverse instruments from a cacophony of collisions to a melodic-sync that places all things into harmony!

                                                               What I see are the majestic fingerprints of God.

                                                                            And what about YOU in all this?  

                                                                 He, the Great Creator, made you in his image! 

                                                                    You, yes you, are the apex of His creation!  

Look at the organization and harmony of what we just covered, you’re no accidental blob of random chance!  He, God himself, values you so much that not only has He numbered the hairs on your head, but He sent His only son to die to make a path for you back to Himself—for eternity!

Here is where that path begins and ends . . . 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16  

                                                                         It is as simple--as it is profound.

                                                                                  From the Macroscopic

                                                                                     To the Microscopic

                                                                                     To the the Majestic

                                                                                         God loves you!


Copyright © 2017 by William D. (Nick) Nichols

All world rights reserved.

Best Regards!

Nick, @AuthorNick

Please visit Nick’s website:

Note1:  In the middle of the paper the arrow formed by words pointing to YOU and then the triangular base were NOT planned.  Everything was written left justified, I thought I would see how it looked centered and was shocked to see the arrow and triangle form!!

Note2:  This is a nontechnical essay written for the general public.

Note3:  Planet tree photo provided by Yuri_B on (Creative commons public domain photo)


How many times bigger is the earth compared to a human being?  

Names of large numbers: tps://  

Earth to Sun Size:     

Radius in miles from Philadelphia to NYC (96.5miles) according to Google driving directions--1,000,000 dollar bills laid end for end stretches 96.6 miles: 

Grasping Large Numbers:    

Sunshine to sugar by plants:  

Size of earth to sun:     

Earth compared to universe: 

Number of organs in body:

Size and function of pineal gland:  

Average number of cells in body, new study: 

One trillion in seconds:  

Cell size comparisons: 

Size of human hair:  

Size of human nucleus:  

DNA in cells:  

Genome, number of DNA base pairs:  

Green pea analogy:  

Visualizing a trillion:  

No of atoms in a DNA base pair:  

Percent carbon in body composition:

Atom definition and properties:  

Atom size:  

Difference between quarks and leptons:  

Are quarks fundamental particles:  

Size of proton: 

Quantum Chromodynamics: 

Size of a quark:

Quarks and gluons:  


Why gluons are called force carriers:  

More subatomic particles being discovered:  

Quarks may be made of even smaller particles:  

Genesis chapter one:  

Gill’s exposition of Exodus 3:14:  

God created man in his image, Genesis 1:27:  

Hairs on head are numbered, Matthew 10:30:  

Path to eternity, John 3:16:  

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What this gives us is perspective.
I recently took my kids to the Planetarium and they are asking questions about how big the galaxy is and how small the island we live in is on Google maps or the Earth.


Thanks for sharing @AuthorNick. Checking out your web site as well. ;)


What wordpress theme do you use? I have a web site at and I'd love to use that theme somewhere.

Good job with this @authornick, and nice job with all your citations for information you used.

Animaniacs song (SFW)

Monty Python song (perhaps NSFW)

"How little potatoes we are!" :) And how big as well!
Very good and interesting article. Now I've just reviewed it, because I have to run to do the housework. Afternoon I'll have more time to read it carefully. Resteemed and upvoted of course.

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