Friday, April 9, 2010


I've heard the speculation that a person's perspective of human kind's centeredness in the cosmos is directly proportional with one's understanding of math.

In other words, the less math a person understands, the more likely that person will think human kind is the apex and center of the Universe. However, the more math a person understands, the more that person will realize humanity is not even a blip when considering the grand scale of the Universe. Again, this is speculation.

Among the industrialized democracies, the United States lags behind in primary and secondary education. Math does not seem to be an exception. Also, I am no exception within this scenario and I long to better understand the important skill of understanding numbers. So, to do my part to educate myself and any who will listen, I will share some interesting comparisons that I've recently read. Perhaps this information could help us put ourselves and our cosmos into perspective-- a perspective largely described using numbers:

If you count at a rate of one number per second, you will need to count for practically 12 days before you reach one million.

At this same rate, you will need to count for 32 years to reach one billion (109).

To finally count to one trillion, you will need 32,000 years.


McDonald's claims to have served one hundred billion customers. If you took one hundred billion hamburgers and laid them end to end, the burger chain could circle the Earth 230 times! No wonder we've got obesity problems!

And you'd still have burgers left over to stack to the moon and back!

Those people at McDonald's are some rich Mo'Fo's.


If a person making $25,000 a year finds $0.25 on the side walk, then this is the same proportion to Bill Gates finding $25,000 laying around on the floor somewhere! In other words, $25,000 is merely twenty-five cents when compared to Bill Gates' wealth!
No wonder he can donate a billion dollars to AIDS research and not blink!
No wonder Gates only wants the world to use Windows!
(That Linux hater. Grrrrrr . . .)


If we placed a soccer ball in the middle of a soccer field to represent the Sun, we'd have to walk about ten paces from our soccer ball to represent the distance between the Sun and Mercury. About 20 paces away from Mercury would be the Earth-- Venus would fall somewhere in between. The moon would rest about an inch away from the Earth at this proportion. Amazingly, this is the furthest any human has ever physically ventured so far.

Jupiter would be found about 130 paces away from Earth in our "soccer field rendition" of the solar system. And Pluto would end up being half a mile away from the soccer ball which represents our Sun.

The nearest star? We'd have to fly 4000 miles away from our soccer ball to represent Proxima Centauri, the closet star to our planet besides our Sun.
Now try to consider the countless stars our telescopes can see.


If that doesn't put the universe into perspective, then take out the time to listen to what Carl Sagan has to say about our planet, the Pale Blue Dot:

A very humbling discourse indeed.

In light of all of this-- who are we to be cruel to one another? Who are we to think we are so much better than anyone who is different from us? Who are we to ever think that our minds are so high, that we don't have to turn skepticism towards ourselves?

Whether there be a god or not, each individual person is way too small to treat anyone else of lesser size.

To me, these humbling insights reveal the importance of "Numberwareness".


Death By Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, and Jan Devor.
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