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Powers of Ten (1977)

| Documentary, Short
A scientific film essay, narrated by Phil Morrison. A set of pictures of two picnickers in a park, with the area of each frame one-tenth the size of the one before. Starting from a view of ... See full summary »

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A scientific film essay, narrated by Phil Morrison. A set of pictures of two picnickers in a park, with the area of each frame one-tenth the size of the one before. Starting from a view of the entire known universe, the camera gradually zooms in until we are viewing the subatomic particles on a man's hand. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero  »

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Won National Film Registry, National Film Preservation Board, USA 1998. See more »

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The narrator refers to Soldier Field as "Soldiers Field". See more »

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Remake of Cosmic Zoom (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Amazing for a 70's film
8 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is a really interesting film about how large the universe is and how powers of ten become so drastically distant.

It starts out by showing a couple at a picnic in Chicago. It then shows an overhead shot a meter up of the man lying down on the picnic blanket. It then proceeds to zoom out by increasing the distance by a power of ten every ten seconds; 10 to the first meters, 10 to the second meters, 10 to the third meters, and so on.

Before long the viewer is above the earth, then the solar system, then the galaxy, then much of the visible universe. The viewer is projected back forward by decreasing the powers of ten every two seconds.

After a while the picnic scene is displayed again, but it doesn't stop there. The view returns to the regular speed and goes into the negative powers; ten to the negative first meter, ten to the negative second meter, and so on. The viewer is zoomed into the man's hand, and ends up zooming into a single proton in an atom.

I first saw this at an observatory, and I recently saw it again in Chemistry class. I recommend it to anyone.


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