Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Perspective II

From the AP...

"The universe may glitter with far more stars than even Carl Sagan imagined when he rhapsodized about billions upon billions. A new study suggests there are a mind-blowing 300 sextillion of them, or three times as many as scientists previously calculated. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros. Or 3 trillion times 100 billion."

And all in seven days! Actually six if you count (tee hee) biblical union rules...

"The estimate, contained in a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, is based on findings that there are many more red dwarf stars — the most common star in the universe — than once thought."

Always thought that Red Dwarf would be a great name for a midget wrestler. Sorry, little person...

"But the research goes deeper than that. The study by Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum and Harvard astrophysicist Charlie Conroy questions a key assumption that astronomers often use: that most galaxies have the same properties as our Milky Way. And that conclusion is deeply unsettling to astronomers who want a more orderly cosmos. When scientists previously estimated the total number of stars, they assumed that all galaxies had the same ratio of dwarf stars as the Milky Way, which is spiral-shaped. Much of our understanding of the universe is based on observations made inside our own galaxy and then extrapolated to other galaxies"

We're not the norm! Ptolemy weeps. So how many stars ARE there in the Universe?

"When van Dokkum and Conroy crunched the incredibly big numbers, they found that it tripled the estimate of stars in the universe from 100 sextillion to 300 sextillion."

That's hot. Get it?

"'That's a huge number to grasp, even for astronomers who are used to dealing in light years and trillions', Conroy said."

"'It's fun because it gets you thinking about these large numbers,'" Conroy said. Conroy looked up how many cells are in the average human body — 50 trillion or so — and multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. And he came up with about 300 sextillion."

"So the number of stars in the universe 'is equal to all the cells in the humans on Earth — a kind of funny coincidence,' Conroy said."

It always comes down to sex...