Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are we special?

We humans love to think of ourselves as special. Very, very special. After all, that's why God, the Almighty Himself, takes a side in our presidential elections and roots for [insert NFL team here], right? Some of us have even advanced the idea that we earthlings could be part of the only biological life in the entire universe. To be sure, as living organisms, we are almost certainly special in terms of our biological uniqueness. But beyond that, we would be wise to temper our braggadocio. Science writer David Blatner explains why:
If you assume a grain of sand has an average size and you calculate how many grains are in a teaspoon and then multiply by all the beaches and deserts in the world, the Earth has roughly (and we're speaking very roughly here) 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.

That's a lot of grains.

But if you use a Hubble telescope and counted all the "distant galaxies, faint stars, red dwarfs, everything we've ever recorded in the sky" you'd end up with "70 thousand million, million, million stars in the observable universe (a 2003 estimate), so that we've got multiple stars for every grain of sand — which means, sorry, grains, you are nowhere near as numerous as the stars."
Kinda of puts things -- and us -- into proper perspective, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment