Sunday, April 22, 2007

Worlds Without Number

One of the things I do when I'm bored is to browse the archive of the astronomy picture of the day website located on the left sidebar. Everyday there is a different picture, accompanied by an explanation, often with links to many other pages with information and background about the subject at hand. I followed a few the other day and found the first 5 million digits of e. The astronomers who posted it claimed that it can be used as a random number generator, as there are no correlations in the number patterns, it being an irrational number. Curious, I checked to see if it contained my parents phone number. It does. I checked our old house line, and it was there too. My current cell phone number is not, but the first 6 digits are. I checked two other friends numbers, and they are there. I just checked 10 more phone numbers, and the likelihood of any 7 digit number to be there seems to be 50%. For 6 digits its more like 95%. Is your number there?
There is a place where 0 appears 8 times consecutively, as does the number 9. The likelihood of this happening randomly is .1^8, or 1 in a hundred million, but the likelihood of this happening with any digit at some point in the the number e is 100% if you could ever expand it out that far. In fact, you could randomly pick a hundred digit number, and you could eventually find that number in the digits of e.

Moving on...

Heres a picture that I found cool:

This is Omega Centauri, the largest star cluster in our galaxy. It has been theorized that this cluster was once a satellite galaxy of our own galaxy, and was absorbed in a few billion years ago. Most astronomers think that is what will happen to the large and small Magellanic Clouds- small galaxies which also orbit our galaxy.
There are over 10 million stars crammed in a space about 150 light years across. To get a sense of how dense that is, consider that the nearest 10 stars to us are all between 5 and 10 light years away. 150 light years across means about 2 million cubic light years, which means if every star had its own .2 cubic light year, then the average distance between stars is .35 light years (near the center of the cluster, stars will be much closer than this, about .1 ly). What would our night sky look like if we lived in a star cluster like that? Maybe a little like this:

Many of the stars would even be visible during the daytime. It would probably be quite bright at night- many times brighter than a full moon-lit night. The prospect of sending spacecraft to neighboring stars would not be that daunting of a task- the trip would only take a few decades with current technology.

In other news, the eye of Sauron has finally been found:

Looking at pictures like the one below instills in me a sense of awe as to the vast scale of the universe. This picture is from a tiny patch of sky photographed by Hubble over the course of 10 days. Pictured are thousands of galaxies, many as they looked only a few hundred million years after the big bang.

But then I look at pictures like this, and I am reminded of the scripture "And worlds without number have I created..."


Warren said...

e is probably my favorite number, I have a whole book about it. Although I'm a little disappointed I didnt find my phone number.