By the Numbers

Most practicing scientists obsess over details, procedures and data. Oh, Data! Eventually data means numbers. Scientists really like numbers because they can be compared objectively with the strictest of Vulcan logic. I realize that not everyone appreciates numbers to this degree, and you may be confused when scientists get excited, anxious or emotional over certain numbers. What we are really trying to say is, “Pay Attention! This means something!” We think this is the best way to communicate something important because numbers, like Shakira’s hips, don’t lie. Of course, it’s also said that 67% (or whatever number between 0 – 100) of all statistics are made up. No wonder people are suspicious of numbers. Nevertheless, I will try to be as objective as possible here and provide references.

The ‘By the Numbers’ installments will highlight some of these numbers and give some context as to why the public should care about them. This page will serve as a reference for those posts.

4.2 kWh per m2

The total amount of annual incident solar energy on ~7187 square miles, roughly 6% the size of Arizona, could supply the entire annual U.S. energy demand. This assumes 100% capture and conversion efficiency, so in reality the number is closer to ~48000 square miles- still not bad. Scientists are working on solutions to make solar power a viable long-term energy solution. Click the link to check the math.

The year 2050

In 2050, the world’s population is projected to reach 9 billion people. This projected milestone has scientists from many fields anxious due to the interrelated consequences that number means for agricultural production, energy demand, climate change and human health. Click the link above to see the numbers we’ve been crunching with respect to this challenge.

3.7% of the U.S. Federal Budget

The ~$139 billion dollars allocated for research in the U.S. federal budget represents 3.7% of the total government budget. The total amount of R&D spending in all sectors (government, business, other) is ~3% of our GDP. This isn’t exactly a strong endorsement for science. Even though this represents the world’s best/most for now, we can do better. Let’s find a way to invest more in our future. Click the link above for more info.

26% of original forests in the U.S.

Of the forested area that existed at the time of European settlement in what would eventually become the United States, only 26% remains today. Check out the think for a few more numbers on old growth forests.

5800 square miles of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico

The 2013 data show that an area the size of Connecticut in the Gulf of Mexico has bottom water hypoxia levels such that it cannot support life. Check out the link to learn more about the multiple causes and consequences.

170 million hectares of GMOs

The total land area used for the production of GMO crops worldwide is 170 million hectares. Check out the link for some more surprising numbers on GMOs.

11.4 million STEM degree holders… don’t work in STEM fields

For more fun facts about the STEM job market and the STEM ‘crisis’ debate, click on the link above.

80 million acres of corn

Did you know the average corn plant is 8 feet tall producing ears with approximately 800 kernels each in 16 rows? Click on the link for more corn facts.


Whether by accident, follow or relevant search term , that’s how many clicks the blog got in its first year. Check out the link for more of the first year-in-review stats.

500,000 U.S. Citizens

That’s how many citizens in the Toledo, OH metro area were without safe drinking water earlier this month all because of toxic cyanobacteria. Check out the link for the science behind the crisis and what can be done to ensure sustainable water safety.

3.04 Trillion Trees

The Earth is estimated to have 3.04 trillion trees according to a new estimate, but we’re still experiencing a net loss of 10 billion trees a year. One company wants to close the gap and has engineered a way to scale up to 1 billion trees planted annually using drones.


4 thoughts on “By the Numbers

  1. Pingback: By the numbers: Energy from the Sun | New Under The Sun Blog

  2. Pingback: Science: A Long-term Investment | New Under The Sun Blog

  3. Pingback: GMO Numbers | New Under The Sun Blog

  4. Pingback: More Forest Numbers and Tree-Planting Drones | New Under The Sun Blog

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