WATCH THIS: (Scaled) seven-mile model of the solar system

In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there’s a moment where one of the characters manages to survive the worst torture imaginable: being placed in the Total Perspective Vortex. In this machine (designed by someone to get back at their ex-wife), the victim gets a brief glimpse of their position in the universe, relative to everything else: a tiny microscopic speck with a “you are here” sign attached.

I was reminded of that because a group of filmmakers from America have made the first ever scale model of the solar system. While it’s extremely interesting to watch, it doesn’t half make you realise how small and insignificant you are in the greater scheme of things. You’re lucky I’m even bothering to punctuate these sentences correctly.

GCSE textbooks tend to show all the planets on a single page, but this is nothing to do with realism. It’s because each textbook would, it turns out, be seven miles long – even with the Earth being the size of a marble.

The seven-mile desert model includes a sun a metre and a half wide, dwarfing the Earth’s marble. The film takes place in the Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man is held every year. They gave themselves 36 hours to construct and film the project, including a time-lapse video demonstrating each planet’s orbit.

Filmmakers Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh intended the film to give us “a true illustration of our place in the universe”.

“That’s what I really wanted to try to capture,” said Overstreet. “We are on a marble floating in the middle of nothing. When you come face to face with that it’s staggering.”

Nihilistic mission accomplished. Thanks a lot guys – no wonder Douglas Adams thought it would be tortuous.

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