While poking fun at astronomer Carl Sagan in a now infamous sketch, comedy duo Tim and Eric once stated you wouldn’t want to put the universe into a tube.

Why? Because "you’d end up with a very long tube probably extending twice the size of the universe."


Of course!

GIF via Tim and Eric.

So maybe the universe won’t fit in a tube. But what about cramming it into a single image?

It’s a pretty mind-blowing idea to be sure. Most of us have enough trouble mapping out our work weeks, let alone the entirety of known existence.

But that’s precisely what artist Pablo Carlos Budassi was able to do in the brilliant illustration below, which is an artist's depiction of the breadth of the observable universe.

Image by Pablo Carlos Budassi/Wikimedia Commons.

How did Budassi accomplish such an incredible, visually striking feat?

Well, first he consulted a series of logarithmic maps of the universe published by Princeton University researchers in 2005.

A logarithmic map is one that increases by an order of magnitude (a power of 10) instead of by equal increments. This type of map takes massive amounts of information and compresses it into a singular image that can be deciphered as easily as a third-grader’s "Favorite Pizza Topping" pie chart.

The visual representations of these maps, however, can be a bit hard to read for the average person.

Worst. Rorschach test. Ever. "Map of the Universe" by Gott & Juric, Princeton University, used with permission.

Not what you’d normally call easy on the eyes, amiright? It was exactly this ... let’s call it "lack of visual flair" that inspired Budassi to create the hypnotic image above.

The idea came to him while planning his son’s birthday party, according to Tech Insider.

He was creating hexaflexagons for the kids — a fancy way to describe those paper, choose-your-own-adventure origami thingies that were all the rage back in elementary school.

"When I was drawing hexaflexagons for my son's birthday souvenirs, I started drawing central views of the cosmos and the solar system," said Budassi, likely impressing anyone within earshot. "That day the idea of a logarithmic view came, and in the next days I was able to [assemble] it with Photoshop using images from NASA and some textures created [on] my own."

The image is just as impressive close up, where you can see details of different parts of the universe.

Here's a zoomed-in shot:

I swear I can see my house from here. Image by Pablo Carlos Budassi/Wikimedia Commons.

Set at the center of Budassi’s illustration of the observable universe is our solar system — Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and all the other neighbors.

Just beyond the orbit of Neptune lies the Kuiper belt — a massive, asteroid-type belt and home to dwarf planets Pluto, Haumea, and Makemake — then the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Pulling back a bit, we see the cosmic web, a gargantuan, web-like structure consisting of several irregular galaxies which was first captured in an image just two years ago. At the very edges of Budassi’s map lie the cosmic microwave radiation and invisible plasma produced by the Big Bang.

Never before has the insignificance of our entire existence been so beautifully rendered.


I kid, but Budassi’s illustration kind of puts into perspective how small we are in the grand scheme of things, does it not? Makes that 15-minute traffic delay on the way to the office seem, I dunno, not worth losing one’s cool over, maybe?

After all, when you think about it, even the big things are pretty tiny from a certain vantage point.


Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

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