Thursday, May 12, 2011

Avogadro's Number

I was thinking about Avogadro's number the other day when I told someone I loved them more than 6.02 x 10^23. How big is this? Well, let's see if I can explain. I know someday I'll come back and read this to remind myself. I even had my kids do an experiment so they could see the enormity of the number in comparison to everyday objects. We usually use the number to explain the quantity of something very small - atoms specifically. For instance, if I had 6.02 x 10^23 atoms of gold, their mass would equal 6.9 ounces collectively.

To put this in perspective:
If I had 6.02 x 10^23 split peas, their mass would equal 220,000,000,000,000,000 (120 lb.) people. The world's population is about 6,920,000,000 (6.92 billion). So, 6.02 x 10^23 split peas would equal the world's population (if everyone weighed 120 lbs.) multiplied 31.8 million times.

Avogadro's number is huge. Atoms are small. That's what I learned from this mathematical exercise. Loving someone more than 6.02 x 10^ loving someone A LOT!

**220,000,000,000,000,000 is pronounced 220 quadrillion

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