How Many Things Are There?

published on July 20, 2020

Hey Vsauce Michael here if you through every single human alive today into the Grand Canyon we would not fill it up we could make a pile about this big that's it that's all of us all seven point one five nine billion of us in one place a species portrait it kind of puts

Humanity in perspective and you so does this every day you produce about one to two liters of spit which means in your entire lifetime all together you will not produce enough spit to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool so far five

Hundred and sixty billion Lego parts have been manufactured and the total number of grains of sand on earth is estimated to be 75 times 10 to the 18th but here's the thing how many things are there total well how do you define a

Thing well let's say it's a thing if you can think about it or talk about it if you can call it a thing it's a thing this is gonna be a lot of things things can be real imaginary impossible ideas are things things can be looked forward

To and things can be in the past or yellow or concrete or abstract things can happen and some things probably won't making a video about how many things there are no that's the thing that I'm doing right now let's count

Everything right away the answer seems obvious the word thing is so vague the answer is clearly infinite possibly not all we have to do is take the maximum number of physical things things out there in the

Real world beyond our minds we could in theory measure and add to that the total number of things we could imagine the total number of thoughts possible for the purposes of this video let's assume that numbers and math and the laws of

Physics exist as part of the way our universe is but the names and representations they've been given are the products of thinking minds and those things are well things that we can count and there's no reason to double count

All of the indivisible pieces that make up me particles or strings or whatever are the same as the thing that has been named me Abraham Lincoln has a great quote about this how many legs does a sheep have if you call its tail a leg

Four because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one okay let's begin when counting the number of physical things in the universe we hit an unknown how big is the universe the entire universe could be infinite or it could

Be finite but edgeless for a variety of reasons there could also be other universes but it's unclear whether we'll ever be able to actually see all these things instead what we are stuck with and what we usually mean when we say the

Universe is the observable universe whose future visibility limit has been estimated to be only sixty two billion light years in any direction that's it this is likely the only inventoriable space we'll ever need to worry about

And it contains roughly on average 10 to the 80 elementary particles particles with no further internal parts as far as we currently know so that's our answer right there are 10 to the 80 physical things that exist out

There beyond our minds any other physical thing water dogs planets saxophones are just names given to particular arrangements of those same 10 to the 80 particles but wait what if in the future we discover that what we call

Elementary particles today are actually just made out of smaller things we should have counted instead well to cover ourselves let's count the maximum possible number of the smallest measurable thing something the size of a

Planck volume 10 ^ 183 things that small could fit within our observable universe I like this number 10 ^ 183 you couldn't easily argue there were more things than that in the physical real world but you could imagine a Planck length the Planck

Volume that's just the smallest measurable amount of space not the smallest possible you could imagine 1/2 plunk volume a ten thousandth of a Planck volume but that would just be a thought and only ever a thought so how

Many possible thoughts are there it's probably safe to say that the number of possible thoughts is indeed infinite for example numbers you can't say there's a limit to the biggest number we can imagine but unlike physical things that

Exist whether or not we have discovered them do unthought thoughts already exist hmm it seems more like the pool of possible thoughts is really just one thing an actual elements from that set don't become things by themselves until

We thing them that is we or some other mind thinks about them or talks about them and there's a limit to how many things we or anything else could ever thing our observable universe is only so big and it will contain usable energy

For only so long after about 1 trillion to a hundred trillion years the supply of gas needed to form new stars will be exhausted and the lights will start going out one star at a time after a googol years the

Amount of usable energy left in the universe will be zero and nothing will be able to happen to calculate the maximum number of thoughts that could be thought inside our observable universe let's take all of its mass and turn it

Into human brains that just think new and random thoughts from the beginning of time until the universe runs out of usable energy of Google years of thinking but wait what if there are alien brains or for all we know

Earthling brains that think faster than we can okay well to be safe let's not turn all of that mass into human brains let's use it to build a giant hypothetical machine that computes at the fastest speed possible given the

Speed of light and the uncertainty principle bruh mermans limit its 136 times 10 to the 50 bits per second per kilogram of material now a high-end estimate for the total mass of the observable universe is 34 times

10 to the 60 kilograms which used exclusively for the best possible computing machine could altogether process 46 to 4 times 10 to the 110 bits per second now with 315 4 times 10 to the 116

Seconds available from the beginning of time to the heat death of the universe and an assumption that the average thought takes about a sentence worth of information to describe say about 800 bits we get a total of one point four

Five eight times 10 to the 227 things that could ever be thought or imagined that number is huge in the observable universe the universe as we will ever know it the number of thoughts that can be thought is so much larger than the

Number of physical things there can be without imagination and if you were to combine the two totals the number of physical things would barely make a difference so funny enough when it comes to everything in the universe it really

Is the thought that counts and as always thanks for watching

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