We are mostly nothing!

by Eric P. Metze

Do you realize that we are mostly empty space? And when I say “mostly” I mean, almost entirely. Not just 75% or 90% or even 99%…we’re something like 99.99999999999999999% completely empty space! Want to see what I mean?

I created a graphic that represents an electron as one pixel, which means that the proton graphic I created had to be one thousand pixels wide and tall. It also meant that the electron, which orbits around the proton, had to be at a distance of 50,000,000 pixels!

The electron is represented by a small red dot just below and the proton is represented by a large blue sphere near the bottom of the page. You can try to scroll down the hard way, but you might end up dying of hunger before you get there. I’d suggest grabbing the slider bar and dragging it down to the bottom. Then again, you might start out the slow way since the point of this is to show you just how vast the distances are between them.

an electron as one pixel

a proton as one million pixels

Now, remember the distance from the electron at the top of the page and the proton just above is only half of the size of the entire atom. This is just the radius, not the diameter.

2 responses to “We are mostly nothing!

  1. How did you even format this thing? Nice visual!

  2. Everything is made to scale with the electron (being the smallest at 1 pixel). The spacer graphic is a single pixel that has been made transparent. I stretched it to fill the distance between the electron and the proton. The invisible graphic, which is actually 1 pixel wide and 1 pixel tall, is still 1 pixel wide, but now it’s 50,000,000 pixels tall!

    It’s almost unfathomable how big that is, even if you fully understand the math behind it. That’s because our brains aren’t wired for concepts that large. The best most of us can do is create things like the images above to help us conceptualize it.

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