'Primeval Atom' - Atlas Obscura

'Primeval Atom'

An installation that makes understanding the size of the universe a walk in the park. 


The furthest point in the visible universe is a mind-boggling 13.8 billion light years away. That vast distance can be a bit hard to grasp, which is why a collective of artists and scientists from Belgium’s oldest university, KU Leuven, and the city came together to make scaling the universe a literal walk in the park.

The primeval atom is a scale model of the universe where each meter equals 10 million light years. It is built from the perspective of the Earth, so as you walk away, you are going light years back in time. On your way, you will come across 80 galaxies in the form of small metal disks, which are placed at their actual scaled distance. At the end of the tour, you will come across the cosmic microwave background, the source of the first light ever emitted during the earliest age of the universe. 

The entire setup is dedicated to Georges Lemaître, the Leuven astronomer who co-discovered, along with Edwin Hubble, that the universe was not static, but constantly expanding. 

Know Before You Go

The path is freely accessible. The locations of all the medallions can be found in a list or a map form.

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March 26, 2024

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