How far ...? How old ...? How much bigger ...?
- How far is it to our nearest star?
- How long would it take us to reach it with our most powerful rockets?
- What about our nearest galaxy?
- What is the probability that there is life elsewhere in our galaxy?
- How far can we see with the most powerful telescopes?
- How old is the information we receive from them?
- How much bigger is a person than an atom? How much bigger is the Milky Way than the Earth?
- How much bigger is the gravitational pull of the Earth than that of the person next to you?
This conference will give students an opportunity to work with big numbers and probability in a range of astronomical contexts. If they are not already comfortable working with standard form, they soon will be! If they find it difficult to convert one unit of measurement to another, they will have plenty of opportunity to practise it. If they think probability is just about playing cards and counters in bags, they're in for a surprise!
You could start by calculating how long it would take to get to various astronomical bodies by car, by plane or by space rocket. you will need to find out the distances involved and the speed of the mode of transport you are considering. Distances can be measured in kilometres, astronomical units (what is that) and light years - a unit of distance, not of time!
- Scale model of the solar system
- What is the probability of finding intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy?
- What's the probability that we'll be hit by an asteroid?
- How many galaxies are there in the universe?