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Thread: 5 nonillion bacteria on Earth

  1. #1
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    5 nonillion bacteria on Earth

    I was reading an article that said there are about five nonillion bacteria on Earth. This is 5 x 10^30 bacteria. I got to wondering how many that really is. ( Obviously, I must have too much free time on my hands. ) So to give us an idea, let's take a look at the series of number naming in factors of 1,000. We have:

    thousand .... 1,000
    million ........ 1,000,000
    billion ......... 1,000,000,000
    trillion ........ 1,000,000,000,000
    quadrillion ... 1,000,000,000,000,000
    quintillion .... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
    sextillion ..... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
    septillion ..... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
    octillion ...... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
    nonillion ...... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

    OK, so how many is that? Well, if the average bacterium weighs a trillionth of a gram, this would put their total weight at about five quintillion grams, or five trillion ( 5,000,000,000,000 ) metric tonnes. Assuming a density equal to water, this would be a cube 17.1 kilometers or 10.6 miles high.

    Let's say the average bacterium is about one thousandth of a millimeter long. That means that if you laid all bacteria on Earth end to end, they would stretch about 5 sextillion kilometers. This is about 530,000,000 light years, or about 210 times the distance to the Andromeda galaxy. ( Will we run afoul of the language filters typing "sextillion"? )

    That's a lot of germs !!!! Break out the Lysol.
    Last edited by PolymerBob; 05-14-2010 at 01:06 AM.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    I would wonder if that is an increase from what is was due to man made evironmental changes Nothing like dumping your factory wastes into the nearby river or having an oil spill in a large body of water. Does anyone still eat fish? and GMF which has lost its nutrients? But some call it Progress and it outweighs the dangers to humans but not to the animals in their habitat.

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    Bacteria's been around before all the big creatures. There are good and bad bacteria in the world. All the use of disinfectants kills the good and bad.

    Food is less nutritious today because it has been engineered for higher production and to be prettier and to last longer.

    There has been some conjecture that one of the reasons super viruses exist is because livestock is being injected with antibiotics, which humans then ingest - leading to viruses that have greater resistance to the antibodies that are used to fight them in humans.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    ZZZAP! Heh, heh. Now there are only 4,999.999.999.999.999.999.999.999.999.999.

    ...if you laid all bacteria on Earth end to end, they would stretch about 5 sextillion kilometers. This is about 530,000,000 light years, or about 210 times the distance to the Andromeda galaxy.
    Giving support to the theory that life originated in another galaxy, and arrived at our solar system at the end of an inter-galactixc chain of life.

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    After doing a little more arithmetic, it seems that if that mass of bacteria were spread evenly over the entire Earth, it would make a layer a little less than a centimeter thick. I suspect that estimate is a little high, like 2 or 3 orders of magnitude.

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