Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heck Of A Lot

The way I figure it, there being approx 300 billion stars in the average galaxy (some more, some less) and there also being approx 300 billion galaxies (an estimate; there could be lots more, as astronomers just discovered two million they hadn’t noticed before), there are approx 90 quintillion stars.

That’s 9 with nineteen zeros behind it. That’s a big number, as you generally don’t have 90 quintillion of anything around the house or in the garage.

The universe is unimaginably large; we don’t even have a word to describe how big it is, so we go with “unimaginably large.” That’s like saying “there’s some water in the oceans,” or, “there’s some sand in the desert.”

We're in a galaxy we've named the Milky Way, only because when we look through the middle of it, we see a while band across the sky like spilled milk. I don’t know if other people elsewhere in our galaxy have their own names for it, or if those elsewhere call us by some name (we have done such with the Andromeda Galaxy, some two million light-years away).

So here we are, walking around the outside of a spinning planet that revolves around a star. We are not alone; we can’t be. Of those 90 quintillion stars, many must have planets which support intelligent life of one sort or another. Someday, somewhere, I’d like to meet those people. I’m sure I will.


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