How Large is the Universe?

For cen­turies, human­i­ty has been utter­ly trans­fixed by the cos­mos, with gen­er­a­tions of astronomers, philoso­phers and every­day pon­der­ers striv­ing to bet­ter under­stand the grand cap­sule of our exis­tence. And yet to this day, some of the most basic, fun­da­men­tal qual­i­ties of the uni­verse remain a mys­tery. How Large is the Uni­verse? is a fas­ci­nat­ing 20-minute doc­u­men­tary by Thomas Lucas and Dave Brody explor­ing the uni­verse’s immense scale of dis­tance and time.

“Recent pre­ci­sion mea­sure­ments gath­ered by the Hub­ble space tele­scope and oth­er instru­ments have brought a con­sen­sus that the uni­verse dates back 13.7 bil­lion years. Its radius, then, is the dis­tance a beam of light would have trav­eled in that time – 13.7 bil­lion light years. That works out to about 1.3 quadrillion kilo­me­ters. In fact, it’s even big­ger – much big­ger. How it got so large, so fast, was until recent­ly a deep mys­tery.”

For more on the sub­ject, see these five fas­ci­nat­ing ways to grasp the size and scale of the uni­verse.

Maria Popo­va is the founder and edi­tor in chief of Brain Pick­ings, a curat­ed inven­to­ry of cross-dis­ci­pli­nary inter­est­ing­ness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Mag­a­zine and Desig­nOb­serv­er, and spends a great deal of time on Twit­ter.

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Comments (11)
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  • gregorylent says:

    great. but, why do you assume there is only one uni­verse?

  • Cheryl Kreiser says:

    Thanks! I’m always look­ing for great visu­als to use in my class­room.
    Greg, good point.

  • Mike says:

    The roots of the word “uni­verse” are the Latin “unus” (one) and “ver­sus” (to turn). It basi­cal­ly means “every­thing rolled into one.” So of course there is only one universe–by def­i­n­i­tion. Spec­u­la­tions of a pos­si­ble “mul­ti­verse” are a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

  • naate says:

    There is an error in this video @3:43. The radius of the observ­able uni­verse is not 13.7 bil­lion light years, but 36.5 bil­lion light years. The nar­ra­tor cor­rect­ly states that the age of the uni­verse and its rate of expan­sion are the two rel­e­vant fac­tors in deter­min­ing the size of the observ­able uni­verse, and then pro­ceeds to ignore the lat­ter fac­tor by claim­ing that it has a radius of 13.7 bil­lion light years. see:

    @greg: have you found any oth­ers?

  • naate says:

    woops jumped the gun, should have watched the whole thing before com­ment­ing

  • Michael says:

    Amaz­ing stuff! Last com­ment about our place in this sto­ry. Great! I go for ele­vat­ing us.

  • ROWLAND HILL says:

    Does the uni­verse rotate? What is the veloc­i­ty of rota­tion of a point on its out­er­most cir­cum­fer­ence? Is the angu­lar momen­tum of rota­tion increas­ing?

  • j lewis says:

    Rather than rotat­ing, cur­rent evi­dence would sug­gest that it is flat­ten­ing out, smeared out­wards in all direc­tions as jam by a knife.

  • WASI AHMAD says:

    I am a stu­dent of sci­ence and we want to know about our solar sys­tem

  • shogan says:

    Very well done

  • Neeraj says:

    Very inter­est­ed in Glob­al field
    plz send me videos about space ..

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