The cleverly insightful video series Kurzgesagt offers an existential lesson in terrestrial humility with an animated look at the increasingly smaller forms of life that lurk under our feet. While a previous video asked viewers to look up into our relation to the cosmic universe, this one invites viewers to imagine themselves shrinking further and further down in the ground below.
The universe is pretty big and very strange. Hundreds of billions of galaxies with sextillions of stars and planets and in the middle of it all there is earth, with you and us. But as enormous as the universe seems looking up, it seems to get even larger when you start looking down. You are towering over worlds within worlds, within worlds – each in plain sight and yet hidden from your experience.
It’s interesting to note that while everything looks larger, it also feels that way. The air gets heavier, movement becomes more and more challenging, and simple distances become increasingly more difficult to cover. The view moves from the miniature realm to the microscopic realm to the molecule realm, where one can actually view the molecules that construct matter.
Everywhere you look, there are innumerable amounts of molecules and atoms. The rigid walls of the grass cells beneath you are clearly vibrating, rippling with waves of energy. The water droplet contains nearly a sextillion water molecules that are all in motion.
The subatomic realm is the final stop of our understanding.
At your size of under 2 picometers, scale starts to lose its meaning. A human would be nearly 2 billion kilometers tall relative to you, so large they could stretch their arms from the Sun to Saturn.
Beyond that is a vast unknown.
We have reached the bottom, the border between reality and unreality. The scale here is the Planck length, which is the distance light travels in a Planck Time. Planck time is the time it takes light to travel a Planck length. …We think that down here, particles bubble into existence and then spontaneously disappear, creating a quantum foam of unimaginable energy. Can we go even smaller? We don’t know.
Eventually, the viewer is brought back to a human-sized perspective and with that, a profound way of looking at things.
If you look up, the universe is large and strange. So incredibly large and strange. But if you look down, into the tiny and extremely tiny, the universe seems even larger, and even stranger. In the end, the perfect place might be where you are right now – not too big, not too small.