Stolen from "The Universe In A Sphere" Kickstarter campaign.

So in 2016 a smart cookie in Germany came up with the idea to use a laser to draw inside a sphere of glass (sub-surface LASER engraving) the distribution of galaxies in our little supercluster of galaxies corner of the universe and started a Kickstarter campaign. The dots inside the glass in the picture above are not stars, but represent whole galaxies. The 100's of billions of stars kinda galaxies. Each dot. The diameter of the dotted area represents an area of space about 250,000,000 parsecs, or about 815,000,000 lightyears in diameter. Think about that for a second. In that area of space there is 675,758 galaxies. Trying to zap that many galaxies into this sphere of glass would have made it hollow, so only 380,000 of our 675,758 nearest neighbors are burned into the glass. We are a not so special dot in the middle.

See the filiments? Space is not uniform or homogeneous. There's all kinds of structure with voids where there is less stuff, and filiments where galaxies travel along like cars on a highway -- traveling from point A to point B over millions and billions of years. That's what this Kickstarter project was meant to show. Actually, we live in one of the less dense areas, instead of in one of the filiments. On a universe-sized scale scientists say The Universe is the same everywhere. On this scale it clearly isn't.

Now hang on to your brains. That 815,000,000 lightyear in diameter chunk of the universe represents about .0000673% of the volume of universe. Our little...corner. The universe is about 93,000,000,000 lightyears in diameter, You can check my math.

Also stolen.

To go with your universe the Kickstarter campaign had a plethora of stands available for ordering. Shiny gold ones, black ones, white ones, and all kinds of different color ones that were 3D printed for this project. There were even multi-colored lit up ones. I didn't really care for any of them so I got the idea to make some stands out of good ol' wood. I could have just stood around holding the sphere of universe on my shoulders like Atlas, but I had things to do.

I had some leftover maple parts from my shot glass box project, so I dug a piece out and started cutting. I've used hole saws on a drill for drilling holes, but never decorative ones. With the wood clamped in the drill press I first drilled out the inner hole with a 1-13/16" Forstner bit. All during the planning I knew I was going to have to place the drill press table at just the right height so that I could get the Forstner bit out and the hole saw bit into the drill chuck without having to change the position of the wood so the holes would be concentric. Forgot all about doing that. Had to lower the table and raise it back up to change the bits. I managed to get the wood back to pretty darn close to where it was when the inner hole was drilled. Whew.

Once the ring was popped out of the 3-3/8" hole saw bit I did some cleanup on the inside of the hole with a sandpaper tube on the drill press, because the Forstner bit had been going a little too fast and chewed up the wood a little. After that I rounded off the inner and outer top edges with my fun to use Makita compact router and a 5/16" rounding bit. That's about the largest rounding bit it will handle. Some hand sanding, some mineral oil, and voila! Not bad for a prototype.

I didn't have a sphere yet, so I crafted an incredible simulation to get an idea of how things would fit, and to see if the hole was wide enough to keep the sphere from rolling away. The spheres were 80mm in diameter. Things looked good. I paused here and waited for the actual sphere to arrive.

This Kickstarter project failed to get funded a year before this try. The second time something went wrong and instead of getting pledges for a few hundered spheres it ended up being a few THOUSAND spheres. That was a big surprise. The ship date slipped a little, so we all had to wait a bit. Most people didn't mind. Other than it just taking time to laser the spheres getting all of the stand and base orders right made things a bit overly confusing.


After a few hundred angry notes in Kickstarter (not from me -- building stuff is hard) things started happening. In late July 2017 all of the spheres that could were shipped...as many as possible all at the same time. Some people got shipment tracking numbers. Some didn't. Some people never sent an address...how dumb can you be? Etc. etc., etc. as the King of Siam would say. I was sent a tracking number and after a little delay in Frankfurt the package was "on it's way to New Mexico" according to DHL and the US Postal Service. Just when it was supposed to arrive it was delivered to someone in New York. What!? "I was sent the wrong shipment tracking number." OK, fine.

Things went around in circles for a little while and my package was sent 'again' at the end of October. I got an email with the same tracking number as I got in July. What!? I don't know how Duetsche Post or DHL (or are they the same?) do business, but how can they reuse tracking numbers? Anyway, the package sat (virtually at least) in Frankfurt for 42 days, THEN I said something. About ten days later on the 20th of December I received the [surprise!] package. The tracking info went right from Germany to my mailbox. My First World worries were over.

Wow! It was worth the wait. It looked just like the pictures, only it was real.

Since I had no faith in shipping systems I didn't make any additional bases while I was waiting for the sphere. I bought a couple of pieces of wood back in May just in case, but that was it. Once the sphere was here it was time to get to work. The two new to me woods were African Padauk (the red one) and African Teak. Both were listed as difficult to work with at Albuquerque Exotic Woods. I figured it was time to try something outside my oak/maple/walnut comfort zone.

The same 3-3/8" hole saw, and 1-13/16" Forstner bit were used to cut the blanks. That part went well. I was able to use my square corner jig to hold on to the blanks while I used a 5/16" rounding router bit on the top edges, and a 1/8" rounding bit on the bottoms. The tops went well, but I had a little trouble using this set up once the top was routered. Should have started with the router on the bottom.


Good enough for sanding. These pictures are after both pieces were washed off. After that I only got a little of the hand sanding done. The two woods really were a bit more difficult to work with when rounding the edges. There was quite a bit of resistance when going across the grain, and the router would jump a bit as I went around the edges. It all worked out, though. One thing to watch out for is that the red dust from the padauk will permanently stain clothes. I knew that going in so I just wore old clothes. The dust can also be an irritant, so I always had my dust mask on. Getting the dust on my skin didn't seem to bother me, but it can some people.

A non-glamor shot. The sphere fit just like the incredible simulation piece I made back in June said it would.

Close enough. They needed more sanding, but I was out of time. Padauk, African Teak, Maple.

I coated the two new rings in my favorite shellac -- mineral oil. Looks like Krispy Kreme doughnuts. After a couple of days they won't be so shiny. Those colors might make an interesting combination for a box...hmmm.

Road trip! Two days after getting the sphere, and a day after getting the rings 'good enough' I hit the road for Christmas to deliver the set as a present with a choice of base. The trip took me through my old stomping grounds -- The Very Large Array. Stopped for a quick photo op. The presentee wasn't going to be home for Christmas, so he'll just have to wait a month or two. He never reads my website, so he won't see any of this before I deliver the sphere.


Later: The recipient got the sphere in February and liked it.