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The 12-Inch Beach Ball Universe - Long Description

Crossection of the 12 Inch Beach Ball Universe.

In this model, light from the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) equals the 12 inch diameter of the beach ball- the ball has a radius of 6 inches. This represents a 45.6 billion light year radius, or 13.7 billion light years in time. The distance is bigger than the time because the light is being stretched as the fabric of space expands.

Within this ball the first stars can be found at a 4 inch radius. Galaxies seen by the Hubble Telescope can be found in approximately a 3 inch radius. The Milky Way Galaxy covers a 0.000008 inch diameter at the center of the ball (equal to about 750 atoms laid end to end). The earth is much smaller than the smallest particle known, the quark, in this scale model.

CMB Light inside the sphere has already passed us by. CMB Light outside the sphere has not yet reached us, but it is on its way.

Back to the Inflatable Universe activity page.

  • Webmaster: Britt Griswold
  • NASA Official: Dr. Edward J. Wollack
  • Page Updated: Tuesday, 01-04-2011