Population on the Planets

Homan civilization has existed for at least 7,000 years, and the 'advanced' Greek civilization developed around 2,400 years ago. But I bring this subject up to show that even just 150 years ago, what was called 'science' was pretty questionable!,

Around 1830, a man who was considered quite smart began publishing a number of books on Astronomy. He was highly respected, Thomas Dick, LL.D. He wrote and published a total of eleven volumes of his Astronomy books, which were still very popular in the 1880s, when one of his books was published which I bought in a used book shop when I was a young kid.

Dr. Dick knew that the population in England was around 280 people per square mile, and so he felt it reasonable to use that same number in estimating the population for each of the other planets, although he admits that the population of many of them might be DOUBLE what he had estimated. So he felt his estimates were CONSERVATIVE!

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So Dr. Dick created a chart of the areas and populations of all of the planets that were then known (the planets Neptune and Pluto had not yet been discovered (1846 and 1930)) and he had imaginative ideas regarding there being enormous populations living on both sides of the Rings of Saturn.

PlanetSurface AreaPopulation
Mercury 32,000,0008,960,000,000
Venus 191,134,94453,500,000,000
Mars 55,417,82415,500,000,000
Vesta (asteroid) 229,00064,000,000
Juno (asteroid) 6,380,0001,786,000,000
Ceres (asteroid) 8,285,5802,319,962,400
Pallas (asteroid) 14,000,0004,000,000,000
Jupiter 24,884,000,0006,979,520,000,000
Saturn 19,600,000,0005,488,000,000,000
Saturn's outer ring9,058,803,6008,141,963,826,080
Saturn's inner ring19,791,561,636
Saturn's ring edges228,077,000
Uranus 3,848,460,0001,077,568,800,000
Moon 15,000,0004,200,000,000
Jupiter's satellites95,000,00026,573,000,000
Saturn's satellites197,920,80055,417,724,000
Uranus's satellites169,646,40047,500,992,000

You might notice that Dr. Dick felt he knew the EXACT surface area of the asteroid Ceres, along with its precise population of more than two billion people. At that time, the entire Earth only had around two billion people!. I also find it interesting that, in contrast, Dr. Dick seemed to only know the crudest figures regarding our Moon! How was he able to feel that he knew such precise data for a distant and tiny asteroid (which few humans have ever even seen in the sky) while not seeming to know much about the Moon, which every person can see in the sky every single day.

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You might also notice that Dr. Dick gave a population for the rings of Saturn of a very exact amount which is greater than eight trillion people (more than a thousand times the entire population of the Earth right now!

Even today, if any scientist thought there was any population anywhere, he might logically round off the numbers to the nearest million or billion, but Dr. Dick was clearly Quite confident about the exact numbers he published in his Astronomy books!

He was certainly very thorough! It is especially amusing that he even calculated the number of people living on the EDGES of the Rings of Saturn!

For the record, we now know that ALL those population numbers are EXACTLY ZERO.

But the point here is that only five generations ago, in other words, while your great-great-great grandfather, lived, the level of scientific knowledge was very pitiful.

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago