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Q & A of the day: Second of Two-fer


The Milky Way over the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations Image Credit & Copyright: Sergei Makurin

Second question:  We must be in the minority; ‘they’ are many more (in quantity), right? I mean, in size, the earth is to the universe as a little crystal of sand is to the ocean all together.   To see the first question, go here.

Well, since we can’t know how many invisibles there are of whatever persuasion you want to identify, let’s try a little exercise in extrapolation.

First, we funny looking bipeds are of the species homo sapien and there are around 7,500,000,000 of us.  And, rumor has it that there are something like 1.3 million species already found, defined and cataloged. With more discovered every day.

To get a sense of scale, let’s keep to terra firma before jumping into the stardust. We’ll take one sort of little thing: mushrooms, that fungus among us (apologies to my brother if that stirs up some memories), smaller than us but bigger than a microbe. From the above-linked NYT article:

There are 43,271 cataloged species of fungi, based on which Dr. Mora and his colleagues estimate there are 660,000 species of fungi on Earth. But other studieson fungus diversity suggest the number may be as high as 5.1 million species.

I’ll just posit here that if we’re in the minority in terms of number of living, catalogued, documented and verified species (heck, wer didn’t even talk about molecules–hello, oxygen?), then we are definitely in the minority when it comes to numbers of not-living-like-we-do, falsely catalogued, anecdotally documented, not quite verified beings of the invisible persuasion.

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