New paper: “A billion times smaller than us: helping students comprehend the molecular scale” open access at It details an analogy I’ve used with success in first year lectures to convey the immensity of scale differences between us and molecules 1/3


It uses a small globe and a 3D printed molecule as props: both differ in scale to us by a factor of 100,000,000, so they have been scaled up or down by 10^8 to bring them to a handheld size.

It is of course not a coincidence that the volume difference is 10^24, close to Avogadro’s number! Overall, it’s a fun short accessible teaching moment that can be easily shared with a class. Many thanks to undergraduate Jaspreet Sidhu for her assistance with this project.

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