Tuesday, August 26, 2014

There's Nothing There - Part 1

We tend to think that there's something there. That is, when you look around, you see stuff, and we assume that the stuff is actually made of stuff. Well.

The numbers below are mostly and necessarily approximate, and they change all the time, and I had to figure some of them out, and I don't guarantee my figurin', and I left out the interstellar gases. But it'll do.

The Universe
  • The observable universe is ~93 billion light years across and has ~1 trillion galaxies.
  • There are more stars in the observable universe than grains of sand on earth.
  • The Milky Way contains 300 billion stars.
  • It’s 100,000 light years in diameter and 1000 light years thick.
  • That’s (600,000,000,000,000,000) 600 million billion miles in diameter, and 6 million billion (6,000,000,000,000) miles thick.
  • The nearest star to us is 4+ light years away, 24 trillion miles of empty space - 24,000,000,000,000 miles of nothing between us and them.
  • Star density in a globular cluster (right up there)(very dense) is about 1 star per every 800 billion trillion trillion cubic miles of space.
  • Star density in the Milky Way - about 1 star per every 3 thousand trillion trillion trillion cubic miles of space.
  • Space is empty. There's nothing there.
The Solar System
Just pretend like Pluto's not really there. I mean, it is, but, well, you know.
  • Our solar system has 8 planets (that's an old old model =>)
  • It’s 2.8 billion miles to Neptune (4.5b km)
  • That’s 8 planets spread over 2.8 billion miles 
  • That’s 1 sun and 8 planets in about 91 billion billion billion cubic miles of space. (382 billion billion billion cubic km)
  • The Solar System is empty. There's nothing there.
Matter (the solid stuff)
  • There’s about 1050 tons of matter in the universe.
  • There’s about 4 hydrogen atoms per cubic meter of space on average.
  • Nobody’s ever seen an atom.
  • 4 cubic meters is about an average living room with a vaulted ceiling.
  • There's nothing there.
Atoms (what matter is made of) and You

  • What is an atom? Protons, neutrons, electrons, and emptiness.
  • If a proton is blown up to 1000 pixels (about the size of a large grapefruit), the nearest electron would be 11 miles away (18 km).
  • There’s a million billion times more empty space than matter in an atom. (1,000,000,000,000,000)
  • You are made up of 72 trillion cells. Each cell has 100 trillion atoms. That’s 7 thousand trillion trillion atoms in you. (7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)
  • There’s a million billion times more nothing than something in you. You are almost entirely empty space.
  • There's nothing there.
Protons etc.
  • Protons are made of 3 quarks
  • Each quark is 107 times smaller than the atom.
  • 3 quarks make up only 1% of the mass of the proton.
  • The rest?
  • Virtual particles that flit in and out of existence, particles and anti-particles that instantly annihilate each other. It's e=mc**2 all the time.
  • 99% of your mass is virtual. 
  • 99% of the you that is actually there, is only temporarily there in a constant sort of way.
  • There's nothing there.
Particles etc.
  • Particles are just energy anyway.
  • Particles have no real position in space or time - they are just probability waves.
  • Protons and neutrons are made of quarks.
  • Quarks have no real existence.
  • Everything solid is made of things that don’t really exist.
  • “Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Neils Bohr, the father of Quantum Theory, the theory of what matter actually is.There's nothing there.
Back to the Universe
  • There’s really just nothing in the universe but an occasional bit of something that’s not really there made out of energy that becomes matter.
  • How much energy is in the universe?
  • None. There’s no net energy in the universe.
  • At Big Bang, the universe divided zero energy into two types of energy - positive and negative. 
  • Positive energy became matter. 
  • Negative energy became gravity. 
  • They exactly cancel each other out.
  • There’s no net energy in the universe.
  • There's nothing there.
That would be really depressing if it were true. OK, it's true. But it's not depressing. Watch this space.

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