Big Numbers

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ThePhy

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In the July 16, 2003 BEL program, titled “Bob vs NASA”, Bob pokes fun at atheists about their ineptitude at visualizing large numbers. His overall point was that some people, old classmates of his in particular, didn’t have a good feel for big numbers, in spite of their scientific training and jobs. His point may be correct, but it is amusing to look at the details of what he said. Let’s look at a couple of gems. Remember this is in a conversation in which Bob is pointing out how people goof up big numbers.
What if there’s 10 to the 85 particles? What would that mean? What if it’s not 10 to the 80 particles, what if it’s 10 to the 85 particles? What’s the difference in size, of the universe? This question is for a public school teacher out there. Any public school teachers, what if … And I just got a home-schooler in the audience who yelled “huge difference”. Yeah, 10 to the 80th versus 10 to the 85th would mean the universe is ten thousand times bigger than they thought it was. If it’s 10 to the 85th. Ten thousand times bigger. Not two times bigger. Not 5 times bigger. Imagine that. 5 times bigger, for the whole universe – that would be big, wouldn’t it? You think you know how big the universe is? It’s really five times bigger. And then it turns out there’s 10 to the 85 particles in the universe, so it’s ten thousand times bigger.
Psst. Hey Bob. The right answer is one hundred thousand times bigger, not ten thousand times bigger. (How many of his home-schooled friends pointed this out to him?)
You know one of the things atheists are not good at? Atheists are not good at coming to grips with really big numbers. They’re not good at that. …

I asked how many galaxies do astronomers say exist? How many galaxies? Well nobody knows, but they use a number of about 200 billion. Ok, 200 billion. So let’s change that. Let’s say they’re off by 10. Let’s make it 2 trillion. OK 2 trillion. So you write down – 2 trillion galaxies. And how many stars are in the average galaxy? Well they say there’s maybe 200 billion stars in every galaxy. Well that’s a lot. Ok, so how many zeroes in a billion? 9, right? And 200, so that’s 10, with a 2. So just add 10 zeros to the number we got, 2 trillion, and make the 2 a 4. Ok so that’s how many stars are in the entire universe.
Psst #2. Hey Bob. If you start with the 9 zeros in a billion, and multiply it by 200, that makes 11 zeroes, not 10 (and the factor of 2).
How many helium atoms are in a square inch? You add a few more zeros, and you find out they were wrong.
Psst #3. Hey Bob. A square inch has no helium atoms in it. It is an area, not a volume.
So the point of that story – now my friends who were engineers for Bell Labs, that I had grown up with – you now, they had an excellent education, they were very sharp. But hey didn’t really have a gut feel for really big numbers. The magnitude of really big numbers and what they entail.
And we can see that relatively small numbers, like going from 9 zeros to 11 zeroes, or multiplying by 10 to the 5th power gives at least one pastor fits.
 

Jefferson

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Ninjashadow said:
Ok, so he was wrong, but I don't think that was his point. It seems like you might just be nitpicking.
He's obsessed with Bob for some strange reason.
 

allsmiles

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Ninjashadow said:
Ok, so he was wrong, but I don't think that was his point. It seems like you might just be nitpicking.

so the fallacy of Bob's statement isn't the point...? how is that? Bob was trying to prove a point and ThePhy demonstrated that he failed through misinformation. how can the falsity of Bob's statements not be the point? how can you make a valid point with invalid information?
 

Adam

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About a year ago I was preaching a sermon, and I made an illustration that involved a little math. I mentioned that 2 + 3 = 6 (I meant 2 X 3 = 6). Everybody got the point.

Sometime later, while illustrating something else, I used my youngest daughter as an illustration, and I incorrectly said "...my daughter's youngest name...".

Based on ThePhy's post, it appears that Pastors are not allowed to make mistakes.

Now, if Bob was writing a textbook on math, where math was the point, and not the size of the universe, then I'd have a problem with Bob's math too.
 

allsmiles

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Ninjashadow said:
His point seems to be that the universe is vast and very difficult for people to grasp.

then BE's apparent ignorance on the subject is a fantastic example.

maybe numbers should be left to the scientists and blathering should be left to the talking heads.
 

bob b

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ThePhy said:
In the July 16, 2003 BEL program, titled “Bob vs NASA”, Bob pokes fun at atheists about their ineptitude at visualizing large numbers. His overall point was that some people, old classmates of his in particular, didn’t have a good feel for big numbers, in spite of their scientific training and jobs. His point may be correct, but it is amusing to look at the details of what he said. Let’s look at a couple of gems. Remember this is in a conversation in which Bob is pointing out how people goof up big numbers.Psst. Hey Bob. The right answer is one hundred thousand times bigger, not ten thousand times bigger. (How many of his home-schooled friends pointed this out to him?)Psst #2. Hey Bob. If you start with the 9 zeros in a billion, and multiply it by 200, that makes 11 zeroes, not 10 (and the factor of 2).Psst #3. Hey Bob. A square inch has no helium atoms in it. It is an area, not a volume.And we can see that relatively small numbers, like going from 9 zeros to 11 zeroes, or multiplying by 10 to the 5th power gives at least one pastor fits.

"Ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel".
 

fool

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The Berean said:
Yes, I find this strange as well since Pastor Enyart rarely posts here at TOL.
Bob's website directs you here for disscusion, seems strange we don't get more radio listeners stopping by.
 

The Berean

Well-known member
fool said:
Bob's website directs you here for disscusion, seems strange we don't get more radio listeners stopping by.

I didn't know that. I guess I'll go check out Bob's website, then...
 

erinmarie

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fool said:
Bob's website directs you here for disscusion, seems strange we don't get more radio listeners stopping by.

Well there are tons of guests lurking and reading. So there might be a ton of listeners checking certain threads out.
 

Ninjashadow

New member
truthman said:
About a year ago I was preaching a sermon, and I made an illustration that involved a little math. I mentioned that 2 + 3 = 6 (I meant 2 X 3 = 6). Everybody got the point.

Sometime later, while illustrating something else, I used my youngest daughter as an illustration, and I incorrectly said "...my daughter's youngest name...".

Based on ThePhy's post, it appears that Pastors are not allowed to make mistakes.

Now, if Bob was writing a textbook on math, where math was the point, and not the size of the universe, then I'd have a problem with Bob's math too.

Thank you, that first example is kind of what I thought happend with Bob. I'm just couldn't think how to say it.
 

fool

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erinmarie said:
Well there are tons of guests lurking and reading. So there might be a ton of listeners checking certain threads out.
Precisly the reason that The Phy posts this stuff here.
 

Jukia

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I just thought that The Phy was pointing out Bob's lack of understanding of some basic concepts. Although BE is wont to throw out scientific concepts and ideas he is often wrong. Since he tends to use the Bible as a science text, I guess that is understandable.
 

Yorzhik

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ThePhy; I normally have great respect for your posts (and I'll get to answering over at the other thread when I have time). However, this is quite stupid of you to bring up. It changes you from a scholar to a snide teen. Are you sure you want to act like this?
 
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