Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Units, tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions, quintrillions, sextillions - big numbers - that last one, sextillions, is just about the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in all the world! No, I didn't go out and personally count them all, it's an estimate that was done done by other people.

What I find even more extraordinary is that there are more stars in the universe than that! Just go down to your local beach and check out the sand, see how many grains there are! Now imagine all the grains on all the other beaches in the world and add them all together. All those beautiful beaches in Florida - lots of sand there - and Hawaii, and of course the Caribbean, we even have beaches in Europe, and I'm pretty sure that they have them in Africa and South America too, and don't forget the nude beach at Bondi beach in Australia! Add all those grains of sand together and the total doesn't come close to equaling the number of stars!

Some more facts for those of you not familiar with stars, our Sun is a star. It is of average size, there are some smaller and there are some bigger, some stars are 1,000 times, or more, bigger than our Sun! Our group of stars is in a galaxy called The Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy has about 200 Billion stars in it. As you can imagine there are different sizes of galaxies, some of just a few million stars to some with hundreds of Trillions of stars. Our galaxy is a bit bigger than the average sized galaxy.

With numbers like these I like to think about things and play with the numbers. For example, we have telescopes now that can see planets around other stars, well they don't actually 'see' them, I think that it's more like they see the interruption in light as a planet passes between us and the star. They have examined several thousand stars now and found that at least 50% have planets. As of now we can only detect large planets - the size of Jupiter for example - so the chances are that most stars have planets. If they were small like the Earth or Mars we would not be able to detect them yet. But I am sure we will soon, and as we are already above 50 % I suspect that most stars have planets.

Still thinking, I wonder how many of those planets have life? I cannot help thinking that as life has managed to survive just about everywhere on this planet from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, from the coldest lands to the hottest desserts and even in hot springs and in ice it seems reasonable to assume that life also exists on other planets. Most of the stars that we have examined have about 5 planets. Our star has 9 and as 4 of those are very small they most likely would not be detectable from the kinds of distances over which we are looking - tens to hundreds of light years. (A light year is the distance light travels in one year - a long, long way when you consider that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles in one second! That's more than 11 million miles in one minute. So light can travel to the moon, and back again, 44 times in one minute! Just imagine how far it can travel in a year!) Anyway, I am going to go out on a limb and say that life does not exist somewhere around every star (Even though I suspect that it does) Lets say it exists at one star in a thousand. I'm sure that it is more common than that, but. OK, now, on how many of those planets is there intelligent life do you suppose? (Always assuming that WE are intelligent!! Now there's a thought! Sometimes I wonder seriously about that, especially when I observe our Politicians!) But back to my subject. Lets say out of every one thousand planets with some form of life just one has intelligent life. Now we are at one star out of every million having some form of intelligent life existing on one of its planets. If we assume 10 planets per star we are now at 10 million planets and only one out of those 10 million planets has intelligent life.

OK, as I said earlier there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. With an intelligent form of life at just one in every million stars that means there are 200,000 intelligent life forms in our galaxy! Now surely this HAS to be a minimum, one out of every million?

But I continue, lets extrapolate that to the other galaxies. It is generally accepted that there are at least 200 billion galaxies! So lets multiply the 200,000 life forms in our galaxy by the number of galaxies - 200 billion - and you get 40 Quadrillion. That is 40 quadrillion intelligent races in the universe! Now that is a whole lot!

Aren't numbers fascinating? Or do they give you a headache? You can go all kinds of places from here. How about how many "People" - we have 7 billion people on Earth - so why not multiply that number by the 40 Quadrillion intelligent races? for the total number of "people"? Or how about if there are intelligent races at one of every one thousand suns instead of every one million. Wow.
How crowded does that make heaven? How would we ever find anyone there amongst, how many people?

And yet another thought, I am talking about our Universe, some say there may be other Universes, even billions of other universes. Ooops, headache coming on!

Oh, wait, one more thing, a year or two ago some astronomers decided to point a very powerful telescope at a point in the sky that was completely black, entirely devoid of any sign of any stars. This point was the size of a grain of sand held at arms length - got that? A grain of sand held at arms length, that spot was completely dark, they wondered why it was so black. They set the telescope and left it there turned on for, I forget if it was a week, or more, anyway for a long time. At the end of the week, or whatever, they developed the film, and found, ta da, TEN THOUSAND GALAXIES!!! Not ten thousand stars, ten thousand galaxies! Don't forget our galaxy has 200 Billion stars, and they found 10,000 galaxies in that tiny dark area!

Now is that fascinating? Does that make you feel insignificant? It surely does me.

So that I don't feel too insignificant, how about sending a comment to me? Does anyone out there enjoy reading my blog? Or do you hate it? Or are you, most likely, indifferent?


1 comment:

  1. I don't believe you, it can't be true. We are alone here. All that stuff was just put there for us to look at.


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