As sociologists, we deal with a wide range of empirical and philosophical phenomena, but their scope, in universal terms, is quite narrow: locked somewhere between the individual human and the whole of humanity. With this in mind, the Idle Ethnographer admits to having a hard time justifying this particular post. Initially, I decided to post it just because it is amazing, fascinating, educational, and humbling. It is a visualisation of the universe and its physical scale.
But, being an Ethnographer, albeit Idle, I could not resist racking my brains for potential sociological uses. E.g., in the sociology of science, or that of Western European modernity. A symbolic analysis would reveal what is important enough to be given as an example in a scientific visualisation. The small and large objects are more impersonal, detached and ‘scientific’, while examples closer in size to humans only appear random, but their range is, in fact, highly socially conditioned (HIV virus, red blood cell, coffee bean, Rubic cube, silhouette or a male human being of average (Caucasian) height; Eiffel tower; USA map; length of a marathon). There are also a few hidden jokes: if you watch carefully, you’ll spot them. Or perhaps one can just watch it as a neat visual representation of the physical world in which we live. Or as a cosmology. Or a fairy tale. Or with the reverence of a tiny speck in the face of the universe. I leave this to your sociological imaginations.
Click here to go to the Scale of the Universe website