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Powers of Ten
Directed by Charles and Ray Eames
Starring Philip Morrison
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Distributed by IBM
Release date(s) 1977
Running time 9 minutes
Country United States

Powers of Ten is a 1977 American documentary short film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames.[1] The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten (see also logarithmic scale and order of magnitude). The film is an adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work.

In 1998, "Powers of Ten" was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

Narrative summary

The film begins with a view of a man and woman picnicking in a park, which settles on an one-meter-square overhead image of the man reclining on a blanket. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover by Philip Morrison, then slowly zooms out to a view ten meters across (or 101 m in scientific notation). The zoom-out continues (at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds), to a view of 100 meters (102 m), then 1 kilometer (103 m), and so on, increasing the perspective—the picnic is revealed to be taking place in Burnham Park, near Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront—and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 1024 meters, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in at a rate of a power of ten per 2 seconds to the picnic, and then slows back down to its original rate into the man's hand, to views of negative powers of ten—10−1 m (10 centimeters), and so forth—until the camera comes to quarks in a proton of a carbon atom at 10−16 meter.

Errors, omissions, and commentary

There are some errors that occur at various points in the film. For instance, what is shown as one square meter is actually somewhat more than that at times. When zooming out, the 107 m rectangle fits snugly around the Earth, but the Earth should really be somewhat bigger (when zooming back in, it is shown correctly).

In a less technical error, the narrator refers to Soldier Field as "Soldiers Field".

Related works

  • There is also a 1982 book (revised 1994) of the same title, by Philip Morrison and Phylis Morrison (Philip narrated the film). It contains a sequence of pictures starting with the Universe and moving in powers of ten down to subatomic sizes.
  • Cosmic Zoom (1968) by Eva Szasz and the National Film Board of Canada is also based on Boeke's Cosmic View.
  • Cosmic Voyage (1996), [1] an IMAX film. (Credited as based on Boeke's Cosmic View without mention of the Eames' film.)

References in popular culture

  • The opening scene was spoofed in the couch gag for The Simpsons episode, "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" (going from 1026 to 10−16 to Homer's head, to which Homer says, "Wow!"), and has been repeated twice with different dialogue on "On a Clear Day, I Can't See My Sister" (where Homer says, "Cool!" after the scene returns to the living room and Kang and Kodos can be heard laughing) and "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" (where Homer says "Weird!" after the scene returns to the living room).
  • An unreleased advertisement for Apple's Mac OS X 10.2, "Jaguar", is similar to Powers of Ten.[2]
  • For their Twisted Logic Tour in 2005-06, the band Coldplay used Powers of Ten as the backdrop for their performance of "The Scientist".
  • Musician Shawn Lane has an album entitled Powers of Ten.
  • In May 2006 at E3 and earlier at the 2005 GDCe, Will Wright mentioned that his most recent game title at that time, Spore, was partially inspired by Powers of Ten.[citation needed]
  • The film has inspired a science exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, which was shown from June 1, 2002 to January 5, 2003.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ New York Times obituary, see correction at the end. Retrieved on 2009-08-06
  2. ^ (QuickTime) Jaguar - Touching. [Quicktime movie]. Professor Gary L. Gray, Penn State University. http://pulsar.esm.psu.edu/Faculty/Gray/graphics/movies/jaguar_touching.mov. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 

External links

Coordinates: 41°51′53.93″N 87°36′48.21″W / 41.8649806°N 87.6133917°W / 41.8649806; -87.6133917


Powers of Ten
Directed by Charles and Ray Eames
Starring Philip Morrison
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Distributed by IBM
Release date(s) 1968, 1977
Running time 9 minutes
Country United States

Powers of Ten is a 1968 American documentary short film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames, rereleased in 1977.[1] The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten (see also logarithmic scale and order of magnitude). The film is an adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work.

In 1998, "Powers of Ten" was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

Narrative summary

The film begins with a view of a man and woman picnicking in a park, which settles on an one-meter-square overhead image of the man reclining on a blanket. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover by Philip Morrison, then slowly zooms out to a view ten meters across (or 101 m in scientific notation). The zoom-out continues (at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds), to a view of 100 meters (102 m), then 1 kilometer (103 m), and so on, increasing the perspective—the picnic is revealed to be taking place in Burnham Park, near Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront—and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 1024 meters, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in at a rate of a power of ten per 2 seconds to the picnic, and then slows back down to its original rate into the man's hand, to views of negative powers of ten—10−1 m (10 centimeters), and so forth—until the camera comes to quarks in a proton of a carbon atom at 10−16 meter.

Errors, omissions, and commentary

There are some errors that occur at various points in the film. For instance, what is shown as one square meter is actually somewhat more than that at times. When zooming out, the 107 m rectangle fits snugly around the Earth, but in reality the planet is somewhat bigger (when zooming back in, Earth's size is shown with even greater inaccuracy).

In a less technical error, the narrator refers to Soldier Field as "Soldiers Field".

Related works

  • There is also a 1982 book (revised 1994) of the same title, by Philip Morrison and Phylis Morrison (Philip narrated the film). It contains a sequence of pictures starting with the Universe and moving in powers of ten down to subatomic sizes.
  • Cosmic Zoom (1968) by Eva Szasz and the National Film Board of Canada is also based on Boeke's Cosmic View.
  • Cosmic Voyage (1996), [1] an IMAX film. (Credited as based on Boeke's Cosmic View without mention of the Eames' film.)

See also

References

  1. ^ New York Times obituary, see correction at the end. Retrieved on 2009-08-06

External links

Coordinates: 41°51′53.93″N 87°36′48.21″W / 41.8649806°N 87.6133917°W / 41.8649806; -87.6133917








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