If Earth Were The Size of This Globe… via UX.Blog

Original blog post by John Nelson on UX Blog.

_BSL2104So if Earth were actually the size of this 127 cm diameter globe (and that by dragging my hands along its surface I would not be destroying a soft dusty lava ball, snuffing out all life), I wondered what it would feel like under my fingertips. The answer is insanely smooth.  For instance…
  • If, in the process of painting in the beautiful coastlines, one of the hairs of the paint brush fell off onto the globe, its thickness would dwarf the world’s tallest building.
  • The tip of Everest would reach 0.88 millimeters above the overall surface. Like two grains of salt stacked on each other, or the height of Lincoln sitting on the back of a US penny.
  • The Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, the deepest known location on the Earth’s seabed, would be a 1 millimeter scratch. Similar to the depth of the characters punched into your credit card.
  • The Troposphere (pretty much what we think of as our atmosphere), where our weather and breathing happens, would be a wispy 1.2 millimeter coating -likely not much thicker than the layer of lacquer coating the Churchill globe. This makes me feel uneasy.
  • All of Earth’s multi-cellular organisms would live within a tenuous 3 millimeter-thick envelope.
  • A Boeing 747 at cruising altitude would hover 1 millimeter above the Churchill (probably suspended inside the Churchill’s lacquer coating). It could fly about 97.8 cm (38.5 in) on a tank of gas.
  • Geography nerds like to talk about how the Earth is slightly wider, generally, than it is tall, because the spinning motion mooshes it out a bit at the belt. But how much? To accommodate that equatorial bulge, the Churchill globe would have to be 4.3 millimeters wider than it is tall. You could never tell by looking. If you wrapped a string once around the Churchill globe’s equator, that string would be just under one-and-a-half centimeters longer than when you wrap it around tall-ways.
  • A dust mite (the invisible-to-the-eye little guys who feast on your shed skin scales) on the Churchill would be reminiscent of the Cloverfield Monster, only bigger.

Here are a couple more pictures of the construction of the 127 centimeter-wide Churchill Globe…

photo 1 copy 5 IMG_20150520_122649

The back of napkin sketch of the relative sizes of stuff…


John Nelson is a cartographer and User Experience designer in Lansing, Michigan. His work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, FastCompany, the Guardian, the Atlantic Cities, Discovery News, the blogs of NASA and the Smithsonian, as well as the front page of Reddit.
As the Director of Visualisation at IDV Solutions, John helps Fortune 500 and governmental clients find structure and flow in their data and creates intuitive and actionable user experiences to understand and act on risk. He in an infrequent speaker at Geo-Science and technology conferences, presenting on topics including data visualisation, cartography, social media, physical security, and supply chain.

John writes uxblog.idvsolutions.com and tweets as @JohnNelsonIDV.

Specialties: User Experience, Spatial Analysis, Data Visualisation, Information Architecture, Communications & Teaching.

Bellerby & Co Globemakers

Bellerby & Co Globemakers; Creators of high quality, beautiful handmade world globes. Combining traditional techniques with pioneering design. Handcrafted terrestrial and celestial globes in London. We create models of many sizes and styles, and offer a bespoke service.


  1. Obviously, the surface would be very smooth, but would it yield to pressure?
    The Earth’s crust is on average 40km thick, about 2mm on your 127cm globe, and the inner mantle is soft and gooey by comparison.
    If you tapped it would it feel nice and solid? Or would bounce and vibrate like a water balloon?
    Perhaps you could give it a squeeze around the equator and return it to its proper spherical shape?

    • Perhaps a question for the man who wrote the original blog post. We are mere artists creating beautiful representations of the Earth, skipped the degrees that would make us experts on the actual Earth itself! But fun to ponder…

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