Powers of Ten
Powers of Ten is a seminal documentary film produced in 1977 by Charles and Ray Eames, better known in their lifetimes as boundary-pushing designers and architects. It attempts to do visually what exponents do mathematically: that is, render intelligible the unfathomably vast and the infinitely small. Beginning at a lakeside picnic, the camera pans out to the edge of the observable universe before diving into the human body, passing through an individual cell to the vibrations of its component carbon atoms. The film itself has aged surprisingly well, and its central premise—making the microcosm and macrocosm both relative and relevant to the human scale—hasn’t aged at all. You can watch it and further explore each order of magnitude here.
- Alex Tesar