Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Number of planets in the Solar System...

It should be noted that the photo is correct in stating that most planets we've discovered (about 70% or 600 of around 850 we've found) are 300 light years away from us... 

But the circle in the graphic is more like 3000 ly in diameter, so it should really be about 1/10th the size of the circle shown compared to the Milky Way. Just for comparison the Astrophysics Journal has the approximate number of stars in our galaxy at around 100 Billion, but says that number will only go up. 

NASA says we might expect 6-9 planets per star system, so just for fun if we use the 6-9 planet range per star it could be roughly between 600 billion - 3.6 trillion planets JUST IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM. 

So if we've discovered 850 out of 600 billion potential planets, then we're ~0.0000001% done. If it turns out to be more like 3.6 trillion, then we're ~0.00000002% done (that one has an extra zero.) 

Just for an idea of how many potential planets there are, this photo has about 5,000 galaxies in it: http://i.imgur.com/YEZN9M7.jpg and for an idea of how much of the sky we're looking at in that Hubble Deep Field photograph, compare that XDF photo to the little box in this photo: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9b/XDF-scale.jpg/578px-XDF-scale.jpg 

So there are people who would have you believe that somehow the Earth is special, that humans are the chosen race made in the image of god's likeness and the whole of his moral teachings are passed down to us in a book written ~2000 years ago. (In my opinion it kinda missed some of the important stuff.) 

This is why I'm an Atheist. Because if there is a god powerful enough to create all this, yet elusive enough to make all of it appear to be bound by the laws of physics and reality; then the impotence by which that god allows doubt to be cast about his existence is reason enough to mock the more than trivial apparition humans have obviously created to explain our origins. 

The argument might be made that it is our limited mind that makes it difficult to conceive of god, but if that were true then I would expect the holy texts to help enlighten and clarify that doubt or apprehension. Instead what I find is mostly ignorance, arrogance, misogyny, bigotry... a glimpse of human wants and desires from thousands of years ago that don't relate at all to an enlightened deity but an ignorant people. 

Thanks to reddit for these figures

Thursday, January 3, 2013

5 Gigapixel picture of our universe, very cool!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Space Photos of the Year 2012, Wired