Powers of Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe

Powers of Ten: A Book about the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero
by Philip and Phylis Morrison, and the office of Charles and Ray Eames

Scientific American (dist. by W. H. Freeman and Co.)
SH, C, GA **


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Kees Boeke's wonderful idea of presenting the universe in a series of jumps by the powers of 10 in size was transformed by Charles and Ray Eames into a film. This book is the translation of the film into print. The photographs and the brief dialogue from the film have been enlarged and enriched by additional photographs and text. The book provides many ideas from the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and so forth. The frames from the film appear on the right-hand pages in descending order of scale, and the left-hand pages provide the additional material. For example, facing the page for the scale of 100 million kilometers, we find photographs taken by the Viking space probe as it approached Mars, views of the Martian surface, a NASA Orbiter and a Soviet surface picture taken of Venus, and a picture of a meteorite in someone's hand. The opening essay, "Looking at the World," and a closing series of notes on observing, describing, and measuring are worth the price of the book. The notes on sources describe each of the photographs and where they come from and are a final delight of this fascinating, accurate, and carefully produced book.

--Reviewed by Jay M. Pasachoff in Science Books and Films, 19/5 (May/June 1984), p.279.