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Super Mario Solar System

I was bored and I decided to do something.

The Solar System is pretty big—like, pretty very big. The enormity of the cosmic scale is often lost on folks, and so scientists have come up with various models to demonstrate just how mind-numbingly vast this place can be.

Now, I’m not a scientist, though I do play one in the videogames. Ergo, I decided to make a scale model of the Solar System using the original Super Mario Bros. (NES). Using level maps so thoughtfully provided by our benefactors Ian Albert—and a little bit of ImageMagick—I stitched together a single-row map of the entirety of the (non-bonus) worlds of SMB.

That map is available here.

(NOTE: The map doesn’t seem to render in-browser, but I know that if you File->Save As…, Windows Super-Clippy Image Preview Madoodle/something does open it correctly).

Next, knowing that this image was 107008 pixels wide, and choosing Neptune as my endpoint (F*ck Pluto. I liked it before it was a dwarf planet. (Though it is still quite cool.)), I determined (assuming Neptune’s average orbital distance from the Sun is 4.5 billion kilometres) that each pixel in this SMB map is equivalent to 42052.93km. I then compiled this table, using average orbital distances provided by Wikipedia.

The distances, in pixels, in this table show where each planet/region is to be found, assuming of course that the Sun is found at PIXEL ZERO. It then becomes trivial to draw in each planet.

That map can be found here.

I’ll let you kids do the downloading-and-at-looking, but a few salient points:

  • Mercury and Venus are both close in, in Level 1-1.
  • The Earth is placed at the second ? block in Level 1-2.
  • Mars is also in Level 1-2.
  • Holy crap that’s a lot of empty space.

Nerds. They’re not just the waste byproduct of candy production and unicorn tears anymore.