Watch this one in HD – because at 1080p, each pixel represents some 500,000 kilometers. And sit down: you may suddenly feel … exposed. (Duck!)

The latest version of a popular visualization of asteroid discovery now brings high definition. And that’s important, because we’re talking about distances and data on the scale of the solar system. The video comes to us via Scott Manley, who has the awesome tagline, “Hacker, Astronomer, Gamer, DJ, Scotsman.” (His YouTube channel also contains a ridiculously cool-looking game where you run your own space program. And I thought Civilization was addictive nerd catnip; I’m staying away from this game.)

Watching colored clouds of asteroids demonstrates just why data visualization is so important to understanding our current worlds of knowledge. There’s simply no other way to convey this kind of data and the patterns contained within, particularly in understanding not only how mobbed with asteroids our solar system is, but also how much our view of those objects is expanding.

Thanks to visualization legend Aaron Koblin for the tip.

All this awareness is good. But it’s also one step, terrifyingly closer to the Total Perspective Vortex. Be afraid.

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