Feeling small?

There are 100,000 times as many stars in the universe as sounds and words ever uttered by all humans who have ever lived.

This is the tenth of ten big facts about the universe.  See how many you know here.

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STT
STT
13 years ago

Sounds like another gem from the Department of Made Up Statistics.

Not saying it ain’t iinteresting, nor that it may not be of the right order of magnitude, but come on, they take two unknown (and unknowable) numbers and assume that they exist in some ratio? It’s a bit much to call it a ‘fact’.

Aah, Christmas. A great time for humbug.

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

What STT said. Isn’t the universe infinite anyway? If so then there would be an infinite amount of stars, so a ratio isn’t possible.

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

It might predate the latest cosmology a little Jacques. I rtead somewhere (forget where) of a nineteenth century physicist who advanced one or two proofs that the universe couldn’t be infinite. The one I remember is that if the universe were infinite, the night sky would be uniformly white, instead of (sometimes very) dark blue with a scattering of stars. This is because there would be no direction in which one could look without there being at least one or more stars shining out somewhere in that direction – in fact an infinite number of stars.

I’ve probably botched the explanation, but when I first read it, my reaction was one of those “Oh yeah, of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” reactions.

SJ
SJ
13 years ago

Gummo refers to Olber’s paradox from 1823, which would mean that the universe is either finite, or expanding, or both.

I too have objections to the “Top Ten Favorite Facts“.

8. Dark matter and dark energy make up 94 percent of the universe. We can measure their existence, yet we have no idea what they are.

4. The laws of physics, as measured here on Earth, apply everywhere else in the universe — across space and time.

#4 is still only conjecture, and #8 might be true if #4 is true.

SJ
SJ
13 years ago

A bit further, in a few years time, what we now measure as the effect of hypothetical dark matter and dark energy may well be regarded as the disproof of #4.

murph the surf
murph the surf
13 years ago

A scientist – possibly an astrophysicist or astronomer from Condobolin or Parkes has tried to construct a model in western NSW to try to convey the scale of space to us.
This description of his model was on ABC NSW yesterday.
Say the Sun is at Condobolin , maybe Earth is at Dubbo , Pluto is interstate etc.
The interesting point was that if you compared the speed of a car travelling at 100 km/hr as travelling at 3x the speed of light , you would have to travel 2.7x the distance to the Moon to get to the nearest star.
I’d guess that means you could travel at 33 km/hr ( the impossibility of travelling at speed of light etc etc ) but the scale is still staggering.
I can’t recall all the details more precisely sorry but if you search around on the ABC it might be there.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
13 years ago

Nicholas Gruen [10]:
Given that the universe is immense …. why would the terms “finite’ and “infinite” be suitable or even relevant? Is an entirely different concept called for in talking about the universe?

Just a bit of wondering …. from a non-cosmologist.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
13 years ago

Nicholas Gruen [12]:
No, I mean, is there a completely different concept that otherwise describes the universe than [what seems to me] the linear one of big, very very very big and infinitely humungously big? If there isn’t, I’ll just have to go back to science fiction with its hyperspace, warp-drive, BEMs, etc. and leave philosophy tp the philosophers. :-)

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

It would take an infinite amount of time for the light of the infinite stars to reach us in an infinite universe, so the night sky does not settle the matter either way. QED.

Which just goes to show that the universe cannot be infinite and eternal. Since eternity has neither beginning nor end, any given moment within infinity will have been preceded by a period of infinite duration so the light will have got here. No QED about it, I’m afraid.

Caroline
13 years ago

I love these discussions. I reckon the only way to experience the infinite is to be able step outside the time-space continuum. This, while conceptually almost graspable, is however, experientially impossible. The minute you ‘think’ you’ve got it, you obviously haven’t by virtue of the fact that you are there and are taking up space, ie your body takes up space and concomitant to having a body comes the inevitiblity of entropy, ie. time. The ability to conceptualise the idea of no space and no time and the possibility of an infinite also takes up space but a different kind of space to the space taken up by a prone to the exactitudes of time, in a decaying body. (Thought also takes time, whereas feelings are lightning quick.)

The only way we are ever going to realise an infinite is once we have been rendered body-less–‘dead’ and through some process of ‘non’-thought. Once we have become less dense, we may be able to feel our way into the infinite. Something which we tend to do by being gripped by the possibility, the liklihood that it is a reality that ‘exists’.

In time honoured boy scouts way, best be prepared. The infinite is large and we are dead a long time, for some–eternally.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
13 years ago

Gummo Trotsky [15] and caroline [16];
Aah. That’s the spirit. That’s the sort of thing I was looking for.