Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps by Kees Boeke, Compton Arthur H

By Kees Boeke, Compton Arthur H

Fascinating publication with diagrams exhibiting measurement comparability within the universe.

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The object is merely to give a very faint idea of the inconceivably large number of galaxies in the midst of which our Milky Way is placed. The number of galaxies which are visible with our present telescopes is of the nature of a thousand million. The farthest of these would be at a distance from the earth of 2,000 million light years, that is, something like the length of a diagonal of the large square above. What is drawn here is therefore certainly less than what exists. For the galaxies would be much nearer to each other than the picture shows, and they would continue far beyond its confines .

If we add the thought that man is beginning to control and use these limitless nuclear powers, it is clear that unthinkable possibilities are within his reach. When we thus think in cosmic terms, we realize that man, if he is to become really human, must combine in his being the greatest humility with the most careful and considerate use of the cosmic powers that are at his disposal. The problem, however, is that primitive man at first tends to use the power put in his hands for himself, instead of spending his energy and life for the good of the whole growing human family, which has to live together in the limited space of our planet.

The meaning of this difference of tone is again different from that in drawings −7 to −11. Here a darker grey denotes greater density of electric charge. As a new element there is a gamma ray, full of astonishingly penetrating power, coming in from the left. Its wave length is only a millionth of an angstrom unit, which itself is a hundred millionth of a centimeter! Looking back on the whole series of 40 pictures we find that in only 10 of them (3 to −6) is life known to exist. In other scales there may, however, be forms of life we do not yet know.

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