Sunday, October 10th is Powers of Ten Day!

[About the video.]

## October is Powers of Ten Month

If you miss celebrating on Sunday, that’s okay. The 10th month of 2010 can surely be called Powers of Ten Month, right? Here are some other resources you may enjoy:

- Astronomy for Kids: How Big Is Space?

Based on the Eames video above. “How big is space? That is a question man has been asking since the beginning of time.” Includes links to Astronomy Games, corny Space Jokes, and more.

- Secret Worlds: The Universe Within

An interactive tour, similar to the video above but you can go at your own speed. Also, the size of the earth is shown more accurately.

- Universcale

A nicely done interactive display — click around and explore. But I recommend turning your speakers off, if you find repetitive internet music irritating.

- Orders of Magnitude — Distance

A ruled scale covering the full range of distances, from a hundred yottameters to ten attometers.

- Time in Powers of Ten

Another look at large numbers — in this case, the depths of geological time.

## Study the Powers of Ten

- Powers of Ten Lesson

For middle school students: “Using the Powers of 10 make it easier to write larger numbers.”

- Multiply and Divide by Powers of Ten

Online worksheet generator with adjustable options.

- Powerful Facts about Powers of Ten

From an exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences.

- Basic numerical skills: Powers and Logarithms

A 5-page lesson in the basics of powers, scientific notation, and logarithms.

- Scaling and Orders of Magnitude

Chapter 1 of*Newtonian Physics*, by Benjamin Crowell: The physics of scale, and the case of the spherical cow.

## P.S.

Did you know that 101010 is 42 in binary? Or that 10! seconds = exactly 42 days?

[Hat tip: Mary O’Keefe of the Albany Area Math Circle.]

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Thank you ten times over for this informative post. My daughter experienced a pivotal moment in perspective after viewing that movie!

You’re welcome, Kimberly! I’m glad your daughter enjoyed it.

Very interesting. When I was scrolling down the page, I saw the “Spherical Cow.” I knew this from “Fear of Physics” by Lawrence M. Krauss, one of my favorite math books! Heh.

The video was a great lesson in scale. You never stop and think of just how big the universe is, and just how small atoms are. Yet just the number 40 can describe the massive leap in scale from proton to universe!

Hi, Gecko!

Yes, this video amazes me every time I watch it. I don’t have an intuitive sense for logarithm scales, and the powers grow and shrink so quickly — as you said, “the number 40 can describe the massive leap in scale from proton to universe.” It’s amazing.

I wonder if that’s part of why Douglas Adams picked 42 as the ultimate answer?

Or not.

According to Wikipedia, Adams wrote, “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do’. I typed it out. End of story. ” And he described his choice as “a completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also six and seven. In fact it’s the sort of number that you could without any fear introduce to your parents.”