September 14, 2016

"How many fireflies would it take to match the brightness of the Sun?"

"Not that many! I mean, it's definitely one of those gigantic numbers with lots of zeroes, but in the grand scheme of things, there aren't as many zeroes as you might expect."

18 comments:

damikesc said...

Thanks for that prof. That is one of those questions I never even considered asking. Fascinating article.

Curious George said...

Eight? No, Twelve!

Tommy Duncan said...

If we replace the sun with fireflies would it reduce earth's temperature enough to satisfy the climate change enthusiasts?

Paul said...

@Tommy Duncan

...no...

traditionalguy said...

That is interesting thought. What Moses really meant to write down was God spoke, "Let there be Fireflies."

It's time to re-watch the opening of 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Fabi said...

Twelve? You can't be serious! At least fifteen.

Rusty said...

One giant firefly. Roughly the size of Saturn.

rehajm said...

Ah one...a twohoo...a three...CRUNCH!....Three.

Curious George said...

Not sure how many but they can Light the Sky.

holdfast said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee said...

Catching fireflies on soft summer Midwest evenings during Bonanza commercial breaks. Ah, youth...

bagoh20 said...

One....
with an ass like Kim Kardashian.

dbp said...

It is roughly the same number of fireflies as there are atoms in 1,300 lbs of coal. This would take up a volume of about 1/2 a cubic yard for anthracite--the hard shiny black kind of coal.

mikee said...

First Althouse starts posting Scott Adams stuff, then XKCD stuff. She will eventually discover 4Chan, and we shall abandon all hope upon her entrance there.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Mikee, what an idea. "TheChive" comes before 4chan.
One of my prized possessions is a signed xkcd original my daughter got me for a birthday.

JackOfClubs said...

He did his math wrong. 3.8e+28 / 0.0006 = 6.3e+31 NOT 3e+31. So the rest of his calculations are off by a factor of 2, 4 or 8 depending on whether they are linear, square or cubed. Some of them use data that he doesn't provide (such as the mass of the Sun, Jupiter, and the galaxy) so I didn't bother to check.

Joe said...

Several problems:

Only a portion of the fireflies light would show in any given direction and, more importantly, the fireflies would block each others light.

mikeski said...

So, several problems like the one he drew a picture of (the 3rd pic down)?

Ann: you should change the hyperlink in the original post to "http://what-if.xkcd.com/151/" ... without the "151", your link will point to something else when Randall answers another "what-if" question. (Although he has been slowing down quite a bit recently.)