Roses are red, violets are blue, and a crab is much smaller than a trash can. All of these things are true — or are they? Our brains accept certain things without much explanation, like the size of an object, the limits of time, or the concept of money. That is, until we’re confronted with reality.
Seeing photo comparisons that smash through the boundaries of our brains can stop us in our tracks. We’ve got to stop and stare to figure out what’s really going on. These photos will make you see that reality is only relative.
1. Check out this grain of rice hogging up the frame next to this little baby mini-computer! It’s hard to decide what’s more mind-blowing: How far we’ve come in technological advances, or how weird rice looks when you zoom in that close?
University of Michigan
2. Even people who hate bugs would probably feel comfortable around caterpillars. However, this gigantic green creepy crawly would make the bravest soul scream if it crawled across their shoulder. This 5-inch creature is aptly called a hickory horned devil.
Reddit / Sh3dinja
3. Spotting an eagle makes for an exciting moment in any afternoon, as long as they stay at a distance. This image shows you how gnarly it could get if you ever found yourself on an eagle’s bad side.
Reddit / ItsMoJam
4. At 7’7’’ and 5’3’’, Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues had the most noticeable height gap of any players in NBA history. They were teammates on the Washington Bullets in 1987 and proved height isn’t a determining factor for basketball excellence.
Getty Images / Focus On Sport / Contributor
5. If you need a reminder of the sheer wonder of the Great Pyramids, you only need to see a person stand right at the base. The Great Pyramid of Giza is composed of 2,300,000 individual limestone and granite blocks.
Getty Images / Matt Champlin
6. Well, he’s certainly much bigger than the back of the penny makes it seem. For those of us who haven’t visited the Lincoln Memorial, it comes as a surprise that the Honest Abe statue is larger than life. If he could stand, he’d be 28 feet tall.
Getty Images / Mark Wilson / Staff
7. Forever worry about the safety of your feet now that you know the lion’s mane jellyfish is lurking in many of the world’s oceans. To make matters worse, they hang out in the shallows and can grow up to 120 feet long.
8. Usain Bolt might exist in a parallel universe where time functions differently. There’s several finish line photos where he’s several body lengths in front of his competitors, all while grinning and breaking his runner’s form. These snapshots make his speed appear easy, when it’s anything but.
Getty Images / Cameron Spencer / Staff
9. Michelangelo’s David is regarded as one of the most masterful artworks ever created, and for good reason. This guy is 17 solid feet of marble, carved expertly in the 16th century, back when the scaffolding and every other aspect of life was much less stable.
Getty Images / Stuart C. Wilson / Stringer
10. If you thought a hermit crab pinch was unpleasant, stay clear of the coconut crab. They have the same amount of power in their pincers as a lion’s jaw.
11. Nope, that’s not a very convincing Halloween decoration. It’s a bat that’s so unbelievably gigantic that they named it after a much larger animal by calling it the giant golden-crowned flying fox.
Twitter / Welcomet0nature
12. Believe it or not, these two dogs are of the same breed. The little scrappy pup grew up to look just like his goliath dad, a full-grown Tibetan Mastiff. It may resemble a lion, but these cuddly giants are patient and good-tempered.
Instagram / Venicetibetanmastiff
13. Even the most mammoth human hearts pale in comparison to the ticker of the great blue whale. This to-scale diagram shows how several people could comfortably fit in there and still have room to spare.
Reddit / Woahdude
14. Australia is home to several animals that exist primarily in theory to people who’ll never visit. Wombats are imagined as tiny cute critters, but the truth is, while very cuddly, they grow big, heavy and larger than some dogs.
Facebook / Patrick the Wombat
15. “Crikey!” is an understatement. It’s a colossus of a saltwater crocodile, make no mistake about it. However, this photo does mess with perspective, since the croc is closer to the lens.
Reddit / _Waffleiron
16. Trigger warning for the people who like to condense their small bills. This is the crazy reality of what ten thousand dollars in $1 bills contrasted against the same amount in $100 dollar bills.
Reddit / Zombienm
17. The Easter Bunny doesn’t seem that farfetched in comparison to this Flemish Giant Rabbit. If you can handle an arm’s full, these fluffy angels make wonderful patient pets. Plus, they’re lighter than they look, at the most about 22 lbs.
Twitter / Natureslover_s
18. A washed-up tree in Washington state might be the largest piece of driftwood ever. The sight of it tells a tale of extreme age, where it grew from a seedling, fell into the ocean, and was pushed by waves to shore.
Earth Science Picture of the Day / Phillip Lachman
19. Pumba is much more intimidating in real life. Yep, this is a wild boar looking for snacks in a Chinese trash can. Grubs can only satiate hunger for so long, and this big mama has two baby piggies to feed.
20. Knolling: It’s a good day when the fire department has no emergencies to attend. It’s even better when they’re so bored, they take all their equipment out of the truck for a flat-lay, as was called for in a viral emergency-services trend in 2019.
ville_de_geneve / Instagram
21. Giant: When wrestling star and The Princess Bride icon André Roussimoff traveled by plane, he had to buy two seats. Flight attendants from the time agree he was a really pleasant guy.
RollTideGaming / Reddit
22. Trimaran: You’d think a massive warship like this one would have an equally massive hull, but it turns out this unique design — called a trimaran hull — enables the ship to maneuver quickly in the shallower waters close to land.
Crowe410 / Reddit
23. Split: This photo, taken near the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, shows the striking split between a metropolitan cityscape and the biggest green space in the Big Apple. In a city renowned for its skyscrapers, a view with trees is priceless.
24. Avoid at all costs: There are plenty of fish in the sea, but not one of them wants to come near a shark. Fish work together in schools like these, moving like a current to coordinate safety from predators.
Lowcrbnaman / Reddit
25. Innards: CT scan machines look smooth and streamlined on the outside, but don’t be fooled. When repairs are needed, the outer shell comes off to reveal a mind-boggling matrix of wires, fans, and other circuitry.
Adderall / Reddit
26. Central operations: This looks like it could be the hub of NASA’s mission operations, or even a futuristic movie set, but it’s really the traffic control center in Beijing, China. The black-and-white image on the screen is zoomed-in on the Yangfangdian district of the massive city.
ThatsJustYourOpinionMan / Reddit
27. Satisfying: Often called “road printers”, these bricklaying machines allow a for more efficient assembly process. Instead of having to bend over on hands and knees in the sun, bricklayers can stay standing and place bricks right in front of them, letting the machine do the rest.
lordsleepyhead / Reddit
28. Bright and loud: This isn’t the inside of a toilet paper roll — it’s actually the hollow interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower was constructed as a bell tower, and the emptiness on the inside would allow the bells to reverberate and be amplified.
Wicked_Aviator / Reddit
29. Blastoff: This long-distance photo, taken by one of NASA’s satellites, shows a U.S. space shuttle blasting through Earth’s cloud layer on its departure to orbit. A space launch is a momentous event for humans, but on the grand scale of the universe, it’s tiny.
30. Rubber confetti: Golf balls can be filled with a variety of materials, all of which react a certain way to a golfer’s swing, the spin they put on the ball, and the speed at which the ball is hit.
What’s Inside? / YouTube
31. Log: Never underestimate the power of the sea. This giant sequoia tree washed up as driftwood on a beach, and with that adult human for scale, we figure it must’ve been a pretty strong tide.
9w_lf9 / Reddit
32. Hollow: If you find yourself in Juneau, Alaska, make a day trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. You’ll be able to hike up inside it and see these overhead formations where the ice was carved away by rocks as it crept down the mountain.
Travoli / Reddit
33. Strength in unity: Those gigantic cables that keep the Golden Gate Bridge from crashing down into the waters of San Francisco are actually made up of thousands of individual steel wires, making it more difficult for the bridge’s suspension to fail.
jaykirsch / Reddit
34. Flip: Unless you’re a koi or a goldfish, you’ve likely never seen the underside of a lily pad. This one is flipped over as part of a botanic exhibit, allowing visitors to see all the veins that deliver carbon dioxide to keep the plant healthy.
Hotbreadsy / Reddit
35. Rings: We don’t recommend slicing and dicing your family heirloom necklace, but if for whatever reason it must be done for science, you’ll get an interesting look at how an oyster protects itself by coating any invasive debris particles with layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
thegodofbigthings / Reddit
36. Behind the curtain: When you go out to a night at the theater, the actors up on stage look like they’re performing in a little box. From backstage, where the magic happens, it’s the other way around.
kiaall / Reddit
37. Billiards engineering: How a pool table returns all the pocketed balls so quickly has been a mystery to many, but no longer. Underneath the felt top, the pockets are connected by a series of inclined planes, all carefully arranged to make sure lost balls don’t get stuck.
Duckman296 / Reddit
38. Bunched up: This handful of what looks like colorful plastic bread-bag ties is actually a cross section of a bundle of telephone wires. Those bits of plastic and metal are what allow us to make landline calls.