I'm reading about astronomy and all that stuff and I found this phrase pretty interesting, is from the book "Is life out there" by Sara Seager and she makes an analogy with the impossibility of finding intelligent civilizations with the fluttering of a firefly. The sentence is this:

Finding an Earth twin around a Sun-like star is like trying to see a firefly fluttering less than a foot from a huge searchlight

How do you find this?


  • 3
    Here a “foot” is a unit of measurement. It’s approximately a third of a meter. It’s common and standard in the US and probably easily understandable if no longer used in other anglophone countries. You’ve presented this question very well, with helpful context and background and very presentable formatting, thank you for that. I think you could have saved yourself all of that effort if you’d just consulted a dictionary when you encountered a word which confused you. You would have learned this meaning of ‘foot’ immediately. – Dan Bron Apr 22 '18 at 11:13
  • @DanBron Re use of imperial units in other anglophone countries"it's not quite so Metric in the UK as some claim, see for example quora.com/… – Spencer Sep 19 '18 at 22:40

A foot is a traditional measure of length, equal to 30.48cm. It is still widely used in the US and Britain.

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