Home > astronomy > Numbers and estimations regarding people, stars and galaxies

Numbers and estimations regarding people, stars and galaxies

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I get easily frightened by large quantities. Sure, the numbers in and of themselves don’t really mean much, but once you start breaking things down large (and we’re talking LAAAARGE) quantities of anything become amazingly hard to comprehend. I’m going to be making a lot of assumptions here, and taking those assumptions  and rounding them into numbers that are “neater”. I apologize in advance for my abhorrant laziness, and also for any mistakes I may make.

Firstly, let’s take a quantity that is somewhat easy to grasp: the current population of the Earth.  It’s about 6.8 billion (note the “B”) people. This may seem like a graspable number, since billions has become the new millions (thanks for that, Bill Gates) but let’s look at it further. If you were to meet one person per second, how long would it take you to meet everyone on the Earth (assuming 365 days in a year and 24 hours per day and blah blah blah). It turns out that at the rate of one person per second, it would take over 215 years to meet everyone. 6.8 billion seems a lot larger all of a sudden, doesn’t it?

Do you know how many galaxies there are in the universe? The geniuses behind the hubble space telescope estimated that there were 125 billion galaxies in the universe. If you diviied up those galaxies amongst everyone on Earth, you could give each person 18 galaxies. At one galaxy per second, it would take you just short of four thousand years to count all the galaxies in the universe.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars in it. That’s 3170 years of counting at one star per second and a total of 14 stars per person. Now, if we assume that all of those 125 billion galaxies are similar to our own Milky Way that means that there are probably 12,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe.

That’s 396,372,399,797,057 years of counting at one star per second (nearly 400 trillion) and 1,838,235,294,117 stars per person.

So next time you look up to the sky, claim your own star. There’s more than enough to go around. Just don’t claim the one that makes up the nose of aries. That one’s mine.

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  1. March 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm

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