Zooming Viewer
Getting a feel for scale... and everything else.

2014-02: This version is almost a year old now. I hope to have the new rewrite up soon.

Expectation management

This is a public alpha. That means it's crufty, buggy, and missing things.


  • Use Chrome. Or Firefox.
    Development is on recent Chromium (Chrome) and Firefox, on linux. I recommend Chrome. But this app hangs out over the bleeding edge of the tech snail, so there are bugs in both.
  • The Play button zooms, the button next to it says which way, and the small slider says how fast.
  • The Info and Warning icons show stuff.
  • The box title links are sometimes interesting, sometimes not.
  • The expand arrows in the box corner don't work yet.
  • Unrelated content is dropped into whichever box is free.
  • Not everything is able to pan yet - images yes, videos and web pages no.


Customize Zooming Viewer content.
You control what content is shown. You can tweak existing content and collections, create new collections, and create new content.

User suggestions

  • Model organisms. Dros flies to an early lead (2 votes), with forgetful Mus (1) and irradiated Planaria (1) scampering and swimming in pursuit.
  • Solar system... sigh, some thoughts are below.
  • Human body parts.

Suggestions for user suggestions

Anything multiscale. Zebrafish: glacial retreat and speciation / migration / local habitats / behavior / pelvic spine: phenotype, embryonic development, proteins, mutation site. Life at assorted Reynolds numbers.

Anything normally presented unnecessarily badly. Atomic nuclei as potentials and liquid drop, instead of balls of colored marbles.

Anything neglected. Near-field electromagnetics. Micro and nano fabrication.

Anything insightful.

Anything wonderful. Photo of a single atomic nucleus, fluorescing to be naked-eye visible.

Anything size-related that you were always puzzled by or wanted to know.

Any helpful reference objects. A hand.

Anything else.

User suggestion - Solar system - some thoughts

Try finding just one solar system graphic or interactive, without bogus scale, size, color, eccentricity, and/or luminosity. Let alone one also licensed for reuse. Typical is planets bigger than supergiants, captured by impossibly-colored stars gone nova. It's a contest to see how many common misconceptions can be reinforced simultaneously.

This page nicely illustrates what's now possible in browsers. I'd have included it, but for the bogus star colors, the astroids thick as cheese, the nova, etc.

Here is JPL, showing the nova of a impossibly-colored star, devastating a system of supergiants, oddly given the names of local planets.

A common problem with educational and outreach content, is mixing painstaking care with utter bogosity. When your target audience can't tell which is which, a rich ecology of pervasive misconceptions shouldn't come as a surprise.

Related topics

Customize Zooming Viewer content.
You control what content is shown. You can tweak existing content and collections, create new collections, and create new content.
Lots of folks have nice micrographs sitting offline. Lots of students need a better sense of scale. And less wretched science content. Are there opportunities here?
Teaching size/scale has long been thought of great potential. And is widespread, primary-graudate. But also pervasively unsuccessful. There's little incentive to improve, as subsequent content does not depend on it. What if scale were a pervasive part of descriptive content?

Known issues

  • If your not looking at a tomato plan/leaf when the demo starts,
    some content failed to load (cause unknown - you can try reloading the page - but don't worry about it, because as you zoom around, the content will show up).
  • Firefox intermittently freezes.
    FF 20.0, 2013-04, on linux. When an image is zoomed large, the X server goes compute-bound for several seconds. This is mostly tickled by composite images, and the final zoom of the google maps widget.
  • With browser zooms other than zero (Ctrl-+),
    the app may zoom in on a composite image so as to miss the high-resolution part. FF 20.0, and Chromium 25.0, 2013-04. Because scaled div's horizontally misalign with the imgs they contain.


  • Why does Google maps flash?
    Limitations of api 3.11 (2013-04). You can't do continuous zoom, nor turn off their zoom animation, so I had to fake it. Cesium and Leaflet alternatives are planned.


Icons (play, pause, zoom-in, and zoom-out) are from IcoMoon/Free, by Keyamoon, as CC-BY, downloaded 2013-04-05.

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