This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

A human life as a percentage of the lifespan of the universe

I've just joined the vast number of users on this site which I know will give me hours of endless fun. As a Dawkins 'disciple' and Douglas Adams fan I must admit that it is a great way to share our thoughts about Life, the Universe and Everything.

So, I thought I'd ask the audience a couple of questions that have been perplexing me lately.

I am trying to work out ( roughly speaking ) the following :

  1. If the Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago and the sun will burn out into a dwarf star in 5 billion years from now that's a total of nearly 20 billion years. The question is : if an average life of a human (I smoke and drink too much so I won't include myself !) is 80 years, What percentage of 20 billion is 80 ( I'm sorry, I'm really bad at mathematics ). I just need to know this so that the next time I marvel at the Milky Way I will know that I've had the honour of being part of it all in a tiny miniscule fraction kind of way.

Question 2 is a follow on from question 1. Here goes...

If there are 7 billion people on the planet now, how can I calculate (roughly again) how many homo sapiens have lived and died, and secondly (and, I know, more mathematically complex, how many will live til the sun burns out in 5 billion years' time?

Although I know this will make me feel insignificant (I'm happy about that) it will give me goosebumps when I'm looking at the stars again because I will at last know that ... in the lifetime of this universe I will be one of xxxx billion who have had the privilege to take part for, albeit, xxxx percentage of the whole span.

Thank you


MORE BY gabbyfinn



Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment