60 second sextillion

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or a thousand million million million.  Either way you look at it, a sextillion is a pretty big number.  Why should we be concerned about a sextillion?  Easy.

It is said there are about 70 sextillion stars out there in the known universe, give or take a couple of few sextillion.  That is a bunch by anyone’s calculation.  They say that is a number greater than all the granules of sand on the planet Earth’s deserts and beaches combined.  I’d hate to have been the guy that had to COUNT all those grains of sand.  Let’s just say there are people out there much more capable than me with a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass.  And with more patience.  Can you imagine the guy counting being interrupted by his buddy?  Might have gone something like this.


Bi-speckled smart guy with lab coat, tweezers and magnifying glass:  “61,123,456,789,123,345,678,9 and eleven.. 61,123,456,789,123,345,678,9 and twelve…  61,123,456,789,123,345…”

Bi-speckled smart guy’s not so bright assistant:  “Hey Joe! got a match?”

Bi-speckled smart guy with lab coat, tweezers and magnifying glass named Joe:   “Dang!” 


But seriously folks, a sextillion is not a number to be taken lightly.  After all, the Earth is a mere 93 million light years away from the sun.  Not even a hundred million, less than 1/10 of a billion.  While the Earth itself weighs about 5.972 sextillion metric tons, there are only about 4 quintillion gallons of water on the Earth.  (4 with 18 zeros, less than 1 sextillion)  Small numbers compared to 70 sextillion.

By an amazing coincidence, (and you knew I was going to bring this up) the chances of someone else having the same genetic pattern as you is 1 out of 70 sextillion.  That’s like trying to find a match in a desert or a beach, though at any given time you could find cigarette butts galore.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is this; as vast as the universe is it pales to our own individuality… isn’t that something?

So while we are preoccupied by the simple toils of life, why not take a minute and gaze out at them stars?  Just 60 seconds, time enough to wonder at the glory and immensity of creation…  then remember this,  you are unique…  you are a star… 

shine on, you crazy diamond!


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