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  1. #1
    Platinum Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Yilgarn region of Toronto, Ontario
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    Isaac Asimov has a dramatic illustration:

    It is as if all the matter of the universe were a single grain of sand,
    set in the middle of an empty room
    20 miles long
    20 miles wide and
    20 miles high.
    Yet, at the same time,
    it is as if that single grain of sand were pulverized
    into a thousand million million million fragments,
    for that is approximately the number of stars in the universe.

    These are some of the sobering facts of astronomy, and you can see that they are beautiful.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    A cultural area in SW England
    Thanked 212 Times in 189 Posts
    [quote name='chrisgreaves' post='785680' date='22-Jul-2009 02:48'][/quote]
    For me these have the same (complete lack of) comprehensibility as the analogy of the size and distance of the planets in the solar system.
    You know, the one which goes:
    If the Sun were an orange by the front door of your house, then Mercury would be a pea by the front gate... Earth would be a golf ball half way down the road... Jupiter would be a melon just outside the baker's shop... and Pluto (this is an old analogy, remember!) would be a small hailstone in the next village.

    Mission: identify what we do best and find more ways of doing less of it better

  3. #3
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Essex, England
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    Nothing astronomical, but I remember a useful analogy I read in John Allen Paulos' book "Innumeracy". In these days of fiscal stimulus packages and bank bailouts, people throw the terms Million, billion and now trillion about without really having a grasp of their magnitude, other than the #@/?&% big!

    Paulos states that, while a million seconds is just over eleven and a half days, a billion seconds is just less that 32 years, while a trillion is much longer than recorded history.

    I find that usefully boggling


    "A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." - William James

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