Powers of 10 in Google Earth

Powers of 10 in Google EarthRichard Treves of Google Earth Design posted today about a movie called “Powers of 10” created by Charles and Ray Eames for IBM which illustrated the scale of our universe from the macro to the micro scale. It was a great idea and their video was a brilliant design which is just as powerful seen today as it was when it was created in 1977 (link to YouTube version). The movie zooms out from a couple in a picnic at a park in Chicago to the outer edges of the universe, then zooms back to sub-atomic particles.
Richard decided to at least show a subset of the powers of 10 in Google Earth. You can’t zoom much beyond the Earth in GE, and you can only zoom in to a level where you can see the size of the people in the picnic. Richard said the actual location of the scene from the movie has been changed – so he overlayed an image of the park and the people from the movie. He shows outlines of the powers of 10 with placemarks for each level just like in the movie. You can zoom in and out to get the effect. Check it out! Even though its a subset, it still has the same effect – except that you can perform this in 3D all over the Earth of course!
By the way, the “Powers of 10” movie was a part of the inspiration that led to the development of Keyhole which later became Google Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Dieter van Werkum says:

    Hi Frank,
    > It was a great idea
    I’m afraid you are mistaking. The idea is 20 years earlier than you state. Besides, I put the original plates of Kees Boeke’s Cosmic View’ in the Google Earth Community over a year ago:
    Someone who had Kees as a teacher and saw the placemark sent me an email. The principal of the school, which is still honoring the tradition of Kees Boeke, was thrilled. Fine example of the social effects of the geoweb, don’t you think!
    Dieter van Werkum

  2. No Dieter van hokum, he is not mistaken. He says the film is from 1977 which it is. No mistake.

  3. Dieter van Werkum says:

    Kees Boeke’s ‘Cosmic view’ was featured in Unesco courier of may 1957. That’s all I wished to contribute here.
    If you don’t wait for the imagery update you can still see the idea projected in Google Earth on it’s original location in Bilthoven. The school has recently been refurbished.
    Dieter van Werkum

  4. Steve Hamm says:

    Here’s a new homage to Powers of Ten by IBM

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