Skip to Content

Deep FieldThe Impossible Magnitude of our Universe

Watch  Discover  Dream

Micro vs Macro


In science, scale can be difficult to judge, particularly when coming across an image of science without any proper context. Is this fascinating object something that I can hold in my hand, find under a microscope, or does it reach across the galaxy? It’s important — and quite interesting — to learn about objects on every scale. After all, some processes can be similar whether they’re on a micro or macro scale.

Remarkably, some of the images of the very small look astonishingly like those of the very big.

We often think of the Earth as large — and it is compared to things on the human scale. Yet, a million Earths can fit inside our Sun, which is very small compared to many other objects in space. Likewise, we generally think of grains of sand as being incredibly small in contrast to experiences in our everyday lives. However, the realm of cellular and molecular biology and its constituents, for example, are much smaller than that sand grain and impossible for the unaided eye to see.

The simple question of “how big is this?” often turns out to be not so simple to answer. We can explore this idea of scale through the imagery that different disciplines of science generate. In these images of both the large and the very small, we can find patterns, identify color (which is typically applied during the image-making process), and examine texture. Despite their disparate subject matters, these images possess many similarities and offer an opportunity to explore the wonders and beauty of science from “micro” to “macro”.

Earn This Badge

Please Sign In before continuing.

Explore Further


With thanks to Kim Kowal Arcand and Chandra X-Ray Observatory for this challenge.

Deep Field is a celebration of STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math).

We’ve created some fun challenges inspired by STEAM so you can learn more about anything from Fibonacci to Flying Machines, Music to Math or Singing to Spiral Galaxies. Can you master the challenges and collect all the badges?

Keep a look out for badges across the site or tap one of the hexagons to get started.