First, let’s be clear on this one… everything that follows is a rough estimate, yet oh so intriguing. If you’re like me, and might I add… I hope you’re not, you once wondered how many grains of sand were on that beach where you built that first sand castle. I was one of those “how many?” type of kids and also pondered how many plants and stars there were as well. It turns out there is a study completed that compared the amount of sand on Earth to the number of stars in the “visible” universe. If we include all of the sand on the planet’s beaches and deserts, a rough estimate suggests that there are 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand on the planet… that’s 7,500,000,000,000,000,000 or “seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion” units of sand.
While we know there is a lot of space to space, and there are many more stars than those we can see on a clear night, it turns out that the number of stars truly dwarfs the grains of sand on our humble little planet. Using what is visible with the Hubble telescope and our best predictions of the volume of the universe, University of Hawaii researchers estimate that there are 70 thousand million, million, million stars in the observable universe (70,000,000,000,000,000,000) which works out to be about 9 stars for every grain of sand on the planet. What I found most striking about my research on this topic is that the number of stars in “the heavens” is nearly equal to the number of water molecules in ten drops of water!
Blatner, David. Spectrums. London: Bloomsbury, 2012. Print.
Krulwich, Robert. "Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky?" NPR. NPR, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
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