Shifting Perspective for Fun and Profit

It could be said that stories and games and humor are all exercises in the ability to shift perspective - a key survival skill if ever there was one. In a good game, you constantly have to imagine what it is like outside of your perspective: how the other player sees the board, the other team the goal. In a good joke, the fool turns out to be the hero, the victim the perpetrator, the prince the pauper.

Note, for example, the curiously fun experience generated by the Powers of Ten as you shift the perspective of scale: "View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons."

As macro becomes micro, our whole way of understanding who and what we are changes and changes again. It fascinates us. Almost endlessly. It tickles something inside us. It makes us feel a little more alive, a little more mysterious, a little more fun.

The Powers of Ten is one feature on a gloriously perspective-shifting site called "Molecular Expressions." I found the microphotograph that accompanies this story in the Soap Bubble Gallery.

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