December 9, 2022

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Teen builds the known universe in Minecraft

Teen builds the known universe in Minecraft

Eighteen-year-old Christopher Slayton coined entire planets, black holes and galaxies, as well as the entire universe. And he used nothing but blocks inside Minecraft.

In the more than a decade since its launch, Minecraft has evolved into a creative force, with its millions of powerful community working together to build an array of block-based wonders, from the Starship Enterprise to the Gothic cityscapes of Yharnam from Bloodborne.

Recently, Christopher Slayton — who deals with ChrisDaCow on YouTube — decided to take Sandbox’s creative potential to its largest scale yet, by… Trying to recreate the entire universe…or at least the items we know best.

Slayton set out to painstakingly recreate the planet. This would end up being a relatively modest start compared to what would have followed, yet the block artist took a total of three days to measure the continents and get just the right surface colors, clouds, and lighting. Globe lighting proved to be quite a challenge, but by making the most of the tool that allows you to “paint with light,” Slayton was able to give his innovation immersive gradients and lighting effects.

Picture of a Minecraft universe in Slayton. (Photo credit: Christopher Slayton)

As the Earth completed, Slayton continued to create the other planets in the solar system. Some of these worlds rotate with a noticeable tilt, which has been recreated in the newly born digital universe by drawing the planets at an angle. This extra layer of complexity is compounded by the fact that three of the planets – Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – host their own distinct ring systems.

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Finally, Slayton was able to prevent the sun from building – complete with a shocking number of solar flares – with the help of some of the brightest blocks in Minecraft.

From here, the scale of themes that Christopher sought to build became even more ambitious, as the digital artist sought to recreate one of the most iconic cosmic structures discovered to date: the Pillars of Creation.

This massive collection of interstellar dust and gas is actually a stellar nursery that is part of the Eagle Nebula. With a width of about 4.5 light-years, the Pillars of Creation are radically larger than anything he has designed so far. However, for practical reasons, Christopher decided to keep the size of the Minecraft representations similar to his model of the solar system.

In a video posted on his website YouTube channel“Every time I build, the actual scale will remain roughly the same, while the size of the object in the universe will increase exponentially in light years,” Slayton explained.

Impressively, while creating the pillars, he took into account their real-world positions relative to each other, and even modeled the main stars that were studded via images of the nebula captured by Hubble and other telescopes.

Christopher next sought to recreate one of the universe’s most awe-inspiring celestial bodies: a black hole. These cosmic creatures are fairly common in one form or another throughout our universe, and massive versions of them are believed to lie at the heart of nearly every galaxy as large as the Milky Way.

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Slayton decided to base his work on the “Gargantua” black hole, from the 2014 Sci-Fi movie Interstellar. Although fictional, these singularities – and their light-bending properties – are an excellent representation of how an actual black hole would look if we were somehow observing from orbit without being monstrously affected by the intense gravitational effect.

Of course, figuring out black hole curves is a difficult endeavor when you only have square blocks to work with. However, Slayton was able to use hundreds of lines of blocks as a guide to create the singularity light curves, then illuminate them in a way that appears to be Gargantua’s impressive Minecraftification.

Next, he painstakingly created a group of spiral galaxies similar to the Milky Way, and finally, he worked to represent the entire universe. Based on computer simulations, many astronomers believe that the universe, viewed from very far away, would appear as a vast cosmic web, punctuated by filaments of glowing galaxies and clouds of gas interspersed with voids of nothingness.

In total, it took Slayton over a month to create his digital world, which has to be one of the most impressive blockbuster Minecraft to date. The time was very well spent in our opinion.

Anthony Wood is a freelance writer for IGN