Science and numbers have always been fun things for me. This is why I get all happy when I hear Robert Krulwich's voice on NPR. You can just tell he enjoys this stuff too. It's kind of like seeing Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson on TV, you know it's going to be both entertaining and enlightening.
So, today's Krulwich on science piece was exceptionally interesting because I have several stories that revolve around this very premise. The first is a story I've taken notes for, and written out parts of, but is looking to be about 11-15000 words, so I haven't pursued it very much (sale of that length form an unknown is highly unlikely). Think Rendezvous With Rama only with attitude, a submarine in space story, a psychological experiment, and "just how would an alien species attack Earth" all wrapped up together, with significant twists. But I forgot the radius squared rule. I'll need to rethink the story because of that.
And then there's the other story, the Cthulhu in Space/Maritime rescue story. While I was listening to the Krulwich report the scientist he interviews talks about light speed distances, and commented that it's about 5 light hours to the edge of the solar system. My story starts off with it being about 8 hours to the Kuiper Belt objects. So, quick math time (this time I needed a calculator that handles big numbers).
Speed of light = 299,792.458 km/s
AU = 150,000,000 km (mean distance of the Earth to the Sun)
Speed of light in AU = 500 light seconds per AU (roughly 8 minutes)
Kuiper Belt Objects = roughly 40 AU, 20,000 light seconds, 5.55 light hours
So, I'll need to adjust times in the story, but only by a little. Darn reality, messing with my mojo.