Millions of Angels Dancing on a Pin

“The question of ‘How many angels could dance on a pin’ is often quoted as the essence of medieval scholasticism, a burning issue for the likes of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. In fact, although Scotus certainly troubled himself over the question of ‘Can several angels be in the same place?’ there is no mention of dancing on pins until it was raised as a mockery in the seventeenth century by Protestant academics. Still, it’s a question that ought to be answered and if we take an angel to be nor more or less than an atom, then 200,000 could fit in the width of a single human hair. More impressively, neuroscientist Anders Sandberg has come  up with the figure of 8.6766×1049 angels, based on theories of information physics and quantum gravity.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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