I first heard about the genre of “size comparison” videos on YouTube from this article in the New York Times, written by a mum whose seven-year-old son had become obsessed with them. He’s at a developmental age where kids are finally able to sort things by size or quantify with more ease, so it makes sense that videos like this would scratch that itch. As Jenny Marder writes:
Humans are exceptional at seeing patterns, and they enjoy analogies, even at a young age, said Dedre Gentner, professor of psychology at Northwestern University. In fact, she believes it’s key to our success as a species. Patterns also have great value in a child’s intellectual development and are critical to science and maths.
Both size comparison videos and sorting tasks feature more than just the objects, she said, but also how the objects relate to one another.
“That’s part of what I think is the thrill for kids,” Dr. Gentner said. “You get this constant shift off the object and into a relational pattern. It’s making sense of the world in a way that’s extremely satisfying.”
I started searching through these videos, initially thinking I’d share some favourites with my 10-year-old son — instead, I found myself enthralled. These aren’t just extremely satisfying for kids — they’re satisfying for all of us.
Come on a journey of crazy comparisons with me.
Giant asteroids, anyone?
At first you’re like, ok, there’s an asteroid out there that is roughly two or three times taller than an adult male. That’s a big rock, to be sure — I certainly wouldn’t want that crashing into my neighbourhood — but then they get bigger and bigger until you’re like, holy fuck, there’s a colossal rock party happening in outer space, and that seems bad.
Let’s walk past some sea monsters for fun
I enjoyed this animated sea monster comparison because it includes a little person walking past each one, which allows you to become more horrified with each passing second as you imagine coming into contact with one of these beasts in real life. A thing I now know is that I do not ever want to see a manta ray coming at me; also I’m fine with the fact that the Leedsichthys have been extinct since the end of the Cretaceous period because that is one very big, very ugly fish.
Fictional monsters only grow more terrifying with size
Maybe you’ve never wondered how King Kong, Godzilla, an Exogarth from Star Wars, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man compare, size-wise — and yet, it suddenly feels like information worth knowing. (This video also gifts us a size comparison between the Exogarth and a human at the end, and the difference is…significant.)
An ominous tsunami comparison
I scrolled past this one several times before finally clicking because, unlike Exogarths, tsunamis are a real and terrifying thing. Curiosity got the best of me, though, and I had to see exactly how big these disasters can get. (Way too big, is the answer.)
Palate cleanser: Pokémon of all shapes and sizes
I’m a little disappointed that this video didn’t include my favourite Pokémon, Bewear. (“Once it accepts you as a friend, it tries to show its affection with a hug. Letting it do that is dangerous — it could easily shatter your bones.”) But it is still fun to see how various pocket monsters compare, and maybe your fave is included.
The whole freaking universe
There are loads of space comparison videos, but this is my favourite because it compares a grab-bag of moons, planets, stars, black holes, and galaxies, and just keeps going and going, and good god the universe is big.
A bunch of explosions
I’m not typically an explosion kind of girl and yet, I clicked. And I wasn’t sorry I did — I was startled by the hand grenade right from the jump, and the explosions obviously only get much more intense from there. If blowing stuff up is your thing (and even if it’s not, apparently), this is one to watch.
Just absolutely massive craters
After watching that asteroid video, I was like, “Yep, gotta see what kind of destruction one of those can do.” So I watched this crater size comparison video, which only deepened my resolve that I am, in fact, not a fan of those rocks. No sir, I have no use for asteroids.
Might as well compare the size of the world’s biggest cities
Geography has never been my strong suit, so I figured this would be an educational one for me — and it was. It’s not often that I think about how the size of cities in the U.S. compare to big cities in other countries, but man do we have some big cities.
If countries were planets
If countries were planets — there was no way I could resist one with that title, and it did not disappoint. It’s such an interesting visual to compare the surface area of various countries by reimagining them in this way. (Russia is big, is all I’ll say.)
These buildings are too tall
I was going to stop at 10 of these videos, but I’d already gone down a rabbit hole and had to see how, over the past 120 years, humans have managed to build taller, and taller, and taller skyscrapers. Why? They’re tall enough now! They don’t need to be any taller!