March 24, 2013 Science fact of the day

There are 400 billion stars out there in our galaxy alone. Now if only one out of a million of those stars had planets. Alright? And if just one out of a million of those had life. And if just one out of a million of those had intelligent life…there would be literally millions of civilizations out there. – Jodie Foster in Contact(1997).

This makes no sense whatsoever. 400 billion is 4e11, right? And one million is 1e6. What she’s saying is 400 billion divided by 1 million cubed is some number in the millions. However, if you actually do the calculation, you get something along the lines of 4e-7. .00004% of a planet.

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