Far Out, Man: Powers of Ten Explained by Charles and Ray Eames (1977)


Powers of Ten™ by Charles and Ray Eames — Charles and Ray’s documentary, Powers of Ten—one of most famous short films ever made—has been seen as an exemplar for teaching and understanding the importance of scale for nearly four decades.

Starting at a lakeside picnic in Chicago, the Powers of Ten short documentary transports us to the outer edges of the universe. The scene begins one meter wide. Every ten seconds the view from the starting point is ten times farther out and the field of view ten times wider until our own galaxy is visible as nothing more than a speck of light among many others, that’s 10 to the 24th meters or 100 million light years away. The neighborhood view at this distance is very lonely, and galaxies are far apart.

Then the short documentary takes viewers back to the starting point, and then within the starting point beyond the limits of a microscope where the domain is 10 to the negative 15 or only .00001 ångstrom wide, and your neighbors are quarks and protons. The range of the journey from far out to far within is 40 powers of ten.

In 1998, Powers of Ten was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

See also …

Eamesoffice.com Thinking in Powers of Ten


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