Tuesday, July 04, 2017

[wlpdiihb] Your unique patch of the sky

Divide the celestial sphere into 5*4^39=1.5e24 compact regions of approximately the same area.  That number was chosen to suggest subdividing the triangular faces of an icosahedron.  Everyone can pick a region randomly (perhaps using a cryptographic hash of some identifying information) and probably not worry about picking the same region as someone else.  Collisions will start to occur with high probability when a trillion people pick pieces.

Unfortunately, your patch of the sky is approximately an equilateral triangle with side length 9e-7 arc seconds, which is much smaller than the Hubble Space Telescope's resolving power, or even the resolution of very long baseline interferometry.  The angle subtends about 4000 kilometers at 100 light years, so anyone lucky enough to have their patch land on a nearby star will only get to claim a portion of the surface of the star.  (For reference, the sun has diameter 1.4 million kilometers.)  Proper motion will probably quickly cause the star to drift out of your solid angle.

Inspired by naming minor planets and other astronomical objects and features after people.  Make the privilege available to everyone without needing central coordination.  Space is big.  There's more than enough for everyone.

The same thing could be done on any spherical object. On Earth, the patches would be triangles with side length 28 micrometers.

Future work: divide the oblate ellipsoidal or cylindrical volume of the solar system or Milky Way galaxy into regions of equal volume.

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