Scale of the Universe

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Scale of the Universe is a hip hop song by Boy in a Band composed by Dave Lens and features Vihart. It was released as a digital single on 2013-08-06 with a video produced by Brady Haran and published through Sixty Symbols.

The song is an attempt to describe the incomprehensible size of the observable universe compared to the equally incomprehensible smallness of the Plank length. It does this by using analogies that we can just barely begin to understand.


The song is just wonderful and reminds of me previous attempts like Monty Python's Galaxy Song and the Animaniacs's Yakko's Universe. Like the others, the song evokes a strong sense of epic grandeur and humility capable of bringing tears to my eyes when I let the strength of the song affect me. I especially love this because it creates a similar feeling to my religious days, only in this case, the feeling is evoked by something real!


If you were to zoom in, 
phase-out, move in,
focus on this human,
whose cells magnify
as you fly through them, 
and see atoms, looming
but you keep shooting
past protons, bosons, quarks 
'til even a part of a particle's too big,
Then boom

An end to the intrusion
As you hit the resolution 
of the universe
the strands of its fabric
the tiniest fragment
the Planck length,
past that, Gravity becomes fallacy,
try contrasting that with the galaxies
Try to grasp the huge magnitude
of the universe it's unimaginable.

But let's try anyway.

If that insane length was one dollar bill
Then to reach the wavelength of the smallest particles
Quarks, that are so fundamental
they don't have an inherent size
Would be the current price you'd gain if you sold
Mount Everest made out of gold.
That is insane.

If you applied the Midas touch to my mind
it'd be quite enough to buy a car to drive
And the gluons and 3 quarks combined
make a large hadron those guys collide;

A proton, and to magnify to that size 
would turn that Midas mountain into a diamond
My mind made of that could buy you an island.

And next we ramp up,
from quarks and protons to atoms,
atoms the fractions of matter
the ones that that grant us our mass,
and if that quark 
was counted every time you take a single breath
you'd respire Midas mountains then until your death,

And if that life was compressed
into one lock of hair
then as we climb up the rest of these atomic stairs
then we'd pass DNA
when we get to my red streak
and the size of our cells
we equate to every hair on my head, sing.

Sometimes you make me feel so small
Can't comprehend your size
Yet I'm a giant in your eyes

If we took my head of hair that a cell represents
lifetimes of Midas Everest breaths
and then you would stretch it out to the skyline,
again and again

you'd find circle round the earth 10 times
before you meet me... and you.   
Right here the reach of a human,
a meter or two and if we were to choose
one song to represent those horizons,
an MP3 on our device then,
to reach the size of the earth
compared to like our size
That's a terabyte hard drive,
filled with our files
It seems immense!

And if we compress that collection to one word
to represent our world,
then scaling coefficients
from the planet to the solar system
would let me re-read the whole of Deathly Hallows

And then to travel between stars
as we take to the skies
Would be ten times every word
you'll ever say in your life

And as an analogy of the expanse of
galaxies up in space
Ten times the total of every word
in every book ever made

And to move up to the scale of galaxy clusters
Would be every word said by everyone in Shanghai, in London
Berlin, Delhi, LA, Mumbai, São Paulo, and Moscow
Jakarta, Karachi, Dubai, Telford, Tokyo, and Stockholm

And then to galaxy superclusters
In the large-scale structure
with filaments that feel inadequately described as humongous
Since if we stay with the scale of Earth as a word that equates
to all the words everyone alive today will ever say

And finally we reach the biggest physical thing we can confirm
The indescribable size of the observable universe
which would be more than every word that every person ever has said
Every word that was ever written,
Every word that was ever read!

Sometimes you make me feel so small
Can't comprehend your size
Yet I'm a giant in your eyes.
I can't control the scope
But I'm not losing hope
No no no noooo

To summarize,
Every word that every person has ever said in their lives
where each word implies enough MP3s to fill a terabyte hard drive
Where each song is ten times the number drives to the horizon
that it'd take to ride around the world each time you set eyes on one

where each horizon is a head of hairs
and every hair there is the length of a lifetime
and each breath in that life is the price
of mount Everest made entirely by Midas

and that finally describes it,
Oh, and it's increasing in size
So each time you listen to this song again
it'll be even more difficult to comprehend.


Official video.