Just how big is our Earth?

This is an exhibition shot from Powers of Ten: A Rough Sketch for a Proposed Exhibition on Scale currently showing at the Eames Office in Santa Monica, California. Near the top of the photo, notice two large square images taken from the film Powers of Ten: the left image (10+11) depicts the inner solar system with the green arc representing a six-week path traversed by the Earth, and the right image (10+12) shows the Sun at the center of the orbits of 5 planets: Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter (which is only partially visible at the edges of the square).

In the foreground of the photo is a platform upon which rests a “raft” filled with 1 billion (10+09) grains of sand–just one example of large numbered objects sprinkled throughout the exhibition. If you look closely, you’ll see a bowling ball resting on the sand. Too small to see is another spherical object: a pinball. The relationship between these two spheres is far more impactful when compared with a third object suspended nearby:

an eight-foot weather balloon.

What’s the relationship between the three? The weather balloon represents the size of the Sun; Jupiter, the bowling ball; and Earth, the pinball. The Sun has the approximate volume of 1 million (10+06) Earths!

Earth, the 5th largest of the 8 planets in our solar system, is thought to be 4.5 billion (4.5 x 10+09) years old. As host to millions (10+06) of species, Earth has an approximate circumference of 40,000,000 (10+07) meters (the equivalent of quite a number of strides!).

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