Cosmic Run

Virtual Reality experience giving a unique opportunity to explore cosmos across scales

Motivation

We usually have a good sense of scales and topology in our daily life — we can easily locate the produce section in a grocery store and choose a “big” watermelon. However, when it comes to something much larger, such as our galaxy, or much smaller, such as bacteria, we have a hard time imagining them and misjudge how their sizes relate to other objects in their environment.

To make up for this incompleteness in our perception of the world, we combine recent advances in different branches of sciences within one visual experience. The VR technology is the perfect medium for this task, because it gives the stereoscopic vision that allows us to naturally perceive scales, and thus build up our intuition.

Virtual Reality version


Augmented Reality version


History

The project is a homage to the '68 short "Cosmic Zoom" by Eva Szasz and '77 short "Powers of Ten" by Charles and Ray Eames. The premise of these movies is moving the observer farther and closer by factor of ten revealing the structure of the universe from individual atoms to the galaxy distribution. The original book that carries the same plot is Kees Boeke's "Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps" was published in '57. In 2017 the book "The Zoomable Universe" by Caleb Scharf came out with up to date physics.

Since then, many other movies in similar format were shot, including a soviet movie shot in '85, and more recently in a 2012 mobile phone app and corresponding YouTube video.

“…the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man.”

― Richard P. Feynman

Our objectives

So why are we revisiting this format? We selected the following objectives for our project:

  • Make every visualization as scientifically up-to-date and factually accurate as possible within limitation of computer graphics and our visual perception. We are achieving it by involving scientists from each field - biology, geography, astronomy, etc.
  • Adapt modern technology like virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR). Our primary platform is most accessible VR headsets.
  • Allow the viewer to continue outside exploration by providing resources for further explorations (books, lectures, etc) through this website.