Without context, how can one ever really define or put anything into perspective? We are impressed about the size of the Great Wall of China or shocked when we read about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But can we really fathom the scale of these things on our own?
Thanks to Switched.com, I found out about Dimensions— a project by the London-based design firm BERG in partnership with the BBC that allows you to visually grasp the magnitude of many world events and sites. You can choose your area of interest, enter your postal code, and a map will overlay your chosen interest on top of where you live. It really does “bring home” the reality of many things that we can have a tough time conceptualizing.
According to the Dimensions website:
Dimensions simply juxtaposes the size of historical events with your home and neighborhood, overlaying important places, events and things on a satellite view of where you live. Certain “Dimensions” can be transformed into short walks, so you can get a physical appreciation of the distances involved.
So, how long would it take you to walk the depth of the Mariana’s Trench — the deepest location on Earth — if it were laid sideways on your street? What about the size of the footprint of the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001? How many houses and shops would fit within the ancient walls of Babylon?
The future of the project is uncertain, but if there is enough interest and positive feedback then it will be integrated into the BBC’s online history and news coverage.
[Screenshot of Pakistan floods overlayed on Paris, courtesy of Dimensions]