School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow upshow/hide menu

Ask A Biologist heading

Scale Activity Part 2

show/hide words to know

  • Meter: a unit of length equal to 100 centimeters or 39.37 inches. A meter is also about the same length as a yard.
  • Millimeter: a unit of length that is one thousandth the size of a meter, and one tenth size of a centimeter.
  • Simulate: to look like, take the shape of, or sound like something else; imitate.

Scale Activity Part 2

Now that we know how large a one inch line becomes when we magnify it one hundred thousand times (100,000 X), what would happen if we magnify the same line a billion times (1,000,000,000 X)?


Back to our one inch line that we drew with our pencil and ruler. draw a line

 magnify one billion timesWhat would happen if we magnified it a billion times? Notice that a billion has four more zeros than when we wrote one hundred thousand (100,000).

To see how many feet we now have we need to divide our billion inches by 12. how many feet?

 how many miles?Now that we have the number of feet let's get see if we can calculate the number of miles by dividing it the number of feet in a mile (5280).

For the width we will divide the total length by 36 since the width of the original line is 1/36 of the length. miles wide?

 carpet

How much carpet do you think it would take to cover your entire city? Maybe you could cover the whole state of Texas. Could you possibly have enough carpet to cover one or all of the five continents below? texas

 continents

wikipediaAfter doing some research on Wikipedia, the following land surface areas were found. Which of the following continents could you carpet with the least amount of carpet left over? Could you carpet two of the continents below? If you could, which ones could you cover?

 

ContinentArea (milesĀ²)Area (kilometersĀ²)
Africa11,725,92230,370,000
Australia2,934,3767,600,000
Europe3,930,52010,180,000
North America9,455,64224,490,000
South America6,888,06217,840,000

 


Here is an activity for you.

If you have followed the two mathematic activities it becomes clear that changing the size of things can have a very big impact. However, the biggest impact is still to be calculated. If the nano world is actually one billion times smaller than a meter, to get an idea of the reverse you need to calculate the size of a one meter line magnified one billion times.

Take a line one meter long by one millimeter wide. Calculate how big this line would be if we magnified it one billion times. Then, answer these questions:

How many times could the line go back a forth between the Earth and the Moon?

How many Earths could you cover with the magnified line if were carpet?

Send us your answers and we will let you know how well you have done.

Nano Gears

Nanotechnology is not as much about size as what you can do in the nano world. Researchers from NASA used a supercomputer to simulate attaching benzyne molecules to the outside of a nanotube to form gear teeth. To "drive" the gears, the supercomputer simulated a laser that served as a motor. From Wikimedia - Jie Han, Al Globus, Richard Jaffe and Glenn Deardorff

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow up  Learn More

Nano Gears

Nanotechnology is not as much about size as what you can do in the nano world. Researchers from NASA used a supercomputer to simulate attaching benzyne molecules to the outside of a nanotube to form gear teeth. To "drive" the gears, the supercomputer simulated a laser that served as a motor. From Wikimedia - Jie Han, Al Globus, Richard Jaffe and Glenn Deardorff

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.