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Star Trek: How Many Tribbles Will Fit in Your House?

Have you ever wanted to know how many tirbbles it would take to fill the Empire State Building? We have the answers to life's most pressing problems!

David Cross

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There are Star Trek fans and then there are Star Wars fans. Just by writing this post, you know which type of fan I am. For me, there is nothing better than a Star Trek episode, especially an episode of “Deep Space 9.”

For a while now, I’ve been trying to find a way to finagle a Star Trek-themed post onto the Movoto blog. With J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek film finally in theatres, I thought it was time to pull out the big phasers and make it happen. Are you ready to be stunned?

My problem? How the heck do you combine Star Trek and real estate? It was a lot more difficult than it sounds. Otherwise, I’d have done a Star Trek-themed post earlier. In fact, It was a little like fighting a Dahar Master.

Thankfully, Q stepped in and offered me an epiphany. While browsing old Star Trek episodes on Netflix I remembered a fan favorite species of creatures: tribbles. These tiny, furry cuties show up in most of the Star Trek shows. While these little guys are really cute, they are major pests. When left unchecked these Furby-like creatures can cause a mess by breeding like some sort of sex-crazed porn rabbits.

Two questions came to mind:

  • How many tribbles would it take to fill your house?
  • How long would it take for tribbles to fill your house?

Wouldn’t you know it, I figured it out. I didn’t even need Data to do it. By my estimates, it would take 48,077 tribbles to fill your home, which would happen in 60 hours. Of course, this in the most optimal situation, when the tribbles have enough food to nom on.

If you want the basics on how I figured it out, keep reading. I swear it’s easier than quantum mechanics.

What Are Tribbles?

Source: Wikipedia

Before I get to the numbers, I’m going to give a recap. Tribbles are little artificially created creatures that are supposed to soothe humanoids. I say supposed to because Klingons don’t seem to appreciate the little guys. In fact, “mortal enemies” might be a more apt descriptor.

Tribbles first appeared in the original “Star Trek” series in an episode appropriately titled “The Trouble With Tribbles.” And, oh yes, they were trouble.

When tribbles first showed up, Captain Kirk and his band of international cosmonauts needed to find a way to stop them from infesting the Enterprise. Since then, tribbles have made their way into the expanded Star Trek universe, including “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” “Deep Space 9,” and the abysmal “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Got it? Okay, Let’s turn to numbers.

What I Needed to Know

Compared to some of my previous posts, this one wasn’t so difficult. I needed to know:

  • The rate at which tribbles breed
  • The dimensions of a tribble
  • The volume of a house (or other fictional property)

How Fast Do Tribbles Multiply?

To figure out how fast tribbles multiply, I turned to the Internet, which should come as no surprise to anyone who reads these posts. Thankfully, it’s a question that’s been asked before.

It turns out that tribbles breed when they are situated near foodstuffs of any sort. According to the Star Trek wiki, they breed once per hour, each and every hour. That is, of course, if there is enough food for these suckers to munch on.

However, in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” Spock assumes that a tribble can produce 10 more tribbles every 12 hours.

While, I certainly don’t distrust the Star Trek wiki, I chose to go with Spock’s assumption. Seriously, he’s a Vulcan—or half, at least. He was born to do math.

With the breeding taken care of (I feel like I’ve waited a long time to say that), I turned to finding the size of a tribble.

How Big is a Tribble?

To figure out the volume of a tribble, I again looked to smarter Trekkies. I came across Think Geek, which sells replica tribbles in two sizes: 6-inch diameter and 12-inch diameter. I scratched my head and picked the larger tribble toy.

Armed with a number, I set my phaser to kickass math and looked up how to calculate the volume of a sphere; this gave me how much space a pesky tribble would take up. I calculated that a tribble takes up about 904.32 cubic inches, or .52 cubic feet. (I’m assuming you can squish the tribbles together to create a block of tribbles.)

Finally, I needed the volume of a house.

What is the Volume of a House?

The Movoto bloggers have had to do this a couple times in the past. In this case, we went with our old standby for the average size of a house: 2,500 square feet. We then assumed our house was 10 feet high. This gave me these measurements: 50” x 50” x 10”, or about 25,000 cubic feet. Like I said, easy.

I will admit that this isn’t perfect. I didn’t calculate things like “walls” or anything else on the inside. If this was the case, my final number would include fewer tribbles. Maybe 5 to 10 percent fewer, but that’s really just a guess.

Putting It All Together

With the numbers all figured out, it was really a matter of division. I took the volume of our imaginary average house and divided it by the size of a tribble. This means it would take 48,077 tribbles to fill the average American home. Using Spock’s assumption, it would take 60 hours to fill your house. Of course, it would take a lot longer trying to get them out, especially if you have a squishy heart for cute animals.

Bonus Tribbles

If you’re interested in learning how many tribbles it would take to fill some of the world’s most famous building, here you go.

Empire State Building, New York City

  • Tribbles: 71,153,846
  • Time: 96 hours

White House, Washington DC

  • Tribbles: 1,375,000
  • Time: 72 Hours

Burj Khalifa

  • Tribbles: 96,342,614
  • ime: 96 hours

Painted Lady

  • Tribbles: 57,692
  • Time: 60

Wayne Manor, Gotham (Chicago)

  • Tribbles: 980,769
  • Time: 72 hours

Millennium Falcon

  • Tribbles: 1,173,493
  • Time: 72 hours

Editor’s Note: In most cases, the number of tribbles that are produced at various 12-hour increments would exceed the number needed to fill our structures. It’s not possible to give an exact number of hours needed to fill a structure because tribbles produce litters and not single offspring.

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posted on: May 16, 2013
205 views, 5 comments

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5 Comments

  1. The Derp

    Star Trek … Star Wars … what about Stargate? Or Star Search?

    (Just because there’s “star” in the title doesn’t mean it compares.)

    • Randy Nelson in response to The Derp

      Hey, I really like Stargate! (and Star Trek, and Star Wars… )

  2. Duncan Lunan

    I recommend the Tribble song as a test of sobriety at parties. First verse starts with ’10 green furry things sitting on a wall’ and ends ‘…9 green furry things sitting on the wall, and 1 on the ground.’ Next verse, ‘…8 on the wall, and 4 on the ground’ because the first two are breeding. Then it gets complicated. The last verse, if you ever get to it, ends with the extra lines: ‘And the moral of the story should be obvious to all, It’s easier to do it on the ground than sitting on a wall.’ Best wishes, Duncan.

  3. Kenny

    That’s silly…everyone knows that the Millenium Falcon doesn’t exsist!

 

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