Day 289 – Perspective

I was sent this video this week. It put me – a tiny living organism in a house, in a suburb, in a city, in a country, in the bottom corner of a continent – firmly in perspective:

And that Ceres that they start with is not the fruit-growing town 160km up the road from Cape Town. Although they are both named after the Roman goddess of Agriculture, only one of them is a dwarf planet lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Oh, and while we’re still near the beginning of the animation, thank you, I am already aware that Venus‘ rotation is depicted incorrectly. Yes yes, I know Uranus behaves a bit weirdly as well.

Oh, grow up.

Moving on…

Despite the fact that it’s about 3 times the size of our sun, Vega appears to be small because it’s 27 light years away.

And despite Arcturus being a whole 36 million kilometres across, you can’t even see it from the Southern Hemisphere. Waste of time.

Rigel is almost a hundred million kilometres in diameter. You can see it on the top left of the Orion constellation from the Southern hemisphere, but because all the constellations were described from the glorious North, it’s actually his right foot.

Betelgeuse is the diametrically opposite Rigel in Orion, so it’s where his right foot should be for us down here, despite actually representing his left shoulder.
It’s so big that if it were our sun, it would stretch out almost as far as Saturn.
And we’d all be very, very dead. But amusingly(?), it could be that Betelgeuse is also nearly dead.

Feel insignificant yet? Let’s bring on that big boy:

UY Scuti is the biggest known star in the universe. It Is a hypergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than the Sun.


I genuinely thought that was pointing at some dust of my laptop screen. It was only when I scrolled down and triggered the sunset that I realised it was actually a real pixel.

1,700 times the size of the sun means that UY Scuti is over 185,000 times the diameter of Earth.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and that means it’s 120 billion times the size of Cape Town.

The traffic must be awful.

Best Currency Converter

There are a lot of online currency converters and most of them are wholly depressing if you live in South Africa and you’re paid in Rands. Fortunately, this one that I’ve found doesn’t convert one appallingly weak currency to another, much stronger, currency and make you cry. It converts Pounds to size – and weight. Hugely useful for drug dealers. I chucked in £100 (about 3g of Charlie in London) in £1 coins to see how it got on:


It’s a spin-off of a German Euro-calculating site, so please excuse ze langvich, and also the assumption that you have a handbag, ja?

From there, it was time to knock up the value to One Bar and have a look at £50 notes and 1p coins (the Samsung method of payment of choice).

It turns out that £1,000,000 in £50 notes would be 2.66m high and weigh 24.2kg. Surprisingly little, I thought, and thus I was concerned by their suggestion that:

With 2 strong men, this weight still can be transported well.

That’s 12.1kg for each strong man. TWELVE POINT ONE. HOWEVER WILL THEY MANAGE???!!!!?!?!?!?
What’s going on here? Is there a problem with the general musculature of German men? Can anyone please explain?

We move on. A million squids in penny coins. Let’s do this…

£1,000,000 in 1p coins would weigh a massive 365 tonnes (“For transportation, you should already have a fleet of trucks” – fair enough this time) and a single stack of coins would stretch 165km into the sky. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that a tower of penny coins worth £3 million would endanger the International Space Station. Golly.

We need someone to do this (make a calculator, not endanger the ISS) for South African currency. I can’t imagine that it would be very difficult for someone with even a basic knowledge of coding.

Get to it, readers.