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Site of the Week: Starship Dimensions

starshipdimensions.jpgHave you ever wondered how the Enterprise would fare against a Star Destroyer, or how a Halo sizes up to a the Moon? Have you ever tried to guess just how big a Dyson Sphere would have to be to encompass the Earth’s orbit around the sun? Jeff Russell has, and that’s why he built Starship Dimensions, a website devoted to cataloging and contrasting the minutiae of Science Fiction’s massives. In it you will find a library of vehicles spanning decades of Science Fiction movies and series, all meticulously drawn in proportion to each other. “Scale has always fascinated me,” says Russell. “It is an important, yet often misunderstood or neglected way in which everything in our universe relates. And of course I’ve always really wanted my own Death Star, so naturally I wanted to know how big it really was, or how many Star Destryoyers I could fit in it.”

Not only does the site catalog fictional designs, it also relates these fantastical starships to real-life technological achievements. Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, for example, can just about fit into the cockpit of Firefly‘s Serenity, which happens to be almost the exact same length as the Orion from 2001: A Space Odyssey and for that matter, a Boeing 747. “Our hope is that interest in science fiction leads to a fascination in space exploration and the future,” Russell says. To that end, Starship Dimensions has grown to include a blog — operated and maintained by Russell’s wife Bonita — that posts stories about scientific progress as well as important news items about science fiction. “It is the Interpretative Center of our museum,” Russell says.

What makes the site even more remarkable is that starships are not only listed and drawn to scale, they’re also free to move about the page, allowing for users to make their own comparisons. Curious how a Borg Cube would stack up against a Super Star Destroyer? Simply click and drag. The obvious question of course, would be how Russell knows the sizes of fictional starships: “We always try to find two sources for our information, one of which should preferably be canon,” he says. “In some cases, we even had to contact the original model builder. Happily, there are many science fiction fans that let us know if we’ve made a mistake, and, if they can back up their information, we will make the change.”

But it’s not just science fiction fans that visit the site. Russell says he has received numerous e-mails from educators, military personnel, doctors, even government officials who have taken interest in the site. “There are many brilliant science and science fiction ideas out there that have the potential to actually effect huge and benevolent change,” Russell says. “We want people to have the desire to look beyond the next election and think about our descendants and what we, as a people, can potentially achieve.”

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