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Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames

Most of you have probably seen “Powers of Ten,” a nine-minute film made by Charles and Ray Eames for IBM. According to the Eames Office, over ten million people have seen this film (you are probably one of them) and the number of viewers continue to increase today. I have “The Films of Charles & Ray Eames” box set and needless to say, “Powers of Ten” is one of their films I can just watch over and over. Powers of Ten is “a film dealing with the relative size of things in the universe and the effect of adding another zero.”

Starting viewpoint

The film starts with an image of a couple having a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago. A scene is settled upon a man laying on a blanket one meter away, which is the starting viewpoint. This viewpoint slowly zooms out at a rate of one power of ten every ten seconds, taking the viewer on a journey into the edge of universe (100 millions light years out). Then the viewer is taking back to the picnic at the lakefront. The journey ends in a single proton of a carbon atom inside the man’s hand.

A single proton of a carbon atom

So what does “Powers of Ten” film teach us? At first, the film seems to be about math and science. The film has been shown to people in science classes, scientific museums, science related exhibits and events. To me, it’s a little more than that. It teaches me to expand my horizon and always view things from different scale and perspective, not just one or my own.

Powers of Ten

Powers of Ten Day (10/10/10) is approaching. The Eames Office celebrates Powers of Ten Day every October 10th. This year’s cerebration includes the online streaming of Powers of Ten. They also urge you to choose Powers of Ten related theme to celebrate and send pictures to them. Check out the Eames Office website and their Powers of Ten website for more information.

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