On April 20, 2008 Brad Schwede and Dejan Petrovic from FutureBlast launched a rather geeky website called Giant-Stars.de, targeted at students, science fiction nerds and astronomy enthusiasts. No one at FutureBlast was prepared for what happened next.
“Brad and I launched the website on Sunday evening and emailed it to a few of our friends.” said Mr. Petrovic, who added, “We certainly didn’t expect this site to get more than a few visitors in the first few days.”
The flash movie on Giant Stars website compares the size of our home planet to our closest star – the Sun, and places our tiny “red dwarf” among some of the biggest giant stars in the known universe.
So what is so special about this multimedia piece, we asked the authors, and why even bother creating something like this in the first place? Schwede and Petrovic admitted that the idea for the flash movie was not entirely original. In January 2006, they were forwarded with a set of images created by an unknown author. Although not very finely tuned, these images caused exactly the same jaw dropping effect with everyone who took time to look at them.
“Reactions are mostly mixed,” says Mr. Schwede and continues, “Some of them just stare at the screen feeling small and lonely, while others shout in excitement, glad that we are a part of something so big and exciting. It definitely puts things in their perspective.”
The website reported over a hundred visitors on the first day, but the next day the server nearly crashed under the load of traffic. Thousands of people were visiting the site from all parts of the world and it eventually became too much for our website to handle. The team had to pull the flash off the site and quickly optimize it for a lighter file size and quicker loading time.
“At first we didn’t know where they are coming from,” said Mr. Petrovic, “Our first guess was search engines, or perhaps a large scientific portal, but after looking at our statistics more closely discovered that it was not from a single source. The traffic was pouring from everywhere, from cool websites to some pretty ordinary blog pages.”
FutureBlast team feels that the Internet has changed the way people think and interests they share. “It seems that general public is not so closed to science anymore. They think it is probably due to the fact that access to information is so much quicker these days so that even the time-poorest of us can afford to spend thirty seconds on something their friends find interesting.”
When asked if there are any future plans for the website the team replied that there were already a few contacts made by companies who wanted to capture this traffic to promote their products.
“We’ll consider any good offer, but at this stage, we don’t have any big plans. We’re glad people enjoy it and share it with their friends.”, replied Mr. Petrovic.