The London Economic in Review

This is the number of LED lights you need if you want your house spotted from space this xmas

If you want your house to be spotted from outer space this Christmas, all it takes is 2,683 LED lights on your roof.

The exact amount will make your des res a beacon visible to astronauts on the International Space Station and maybe even Father Christmas as he dashes delivering presents.

University of Leicester boffins were inspired to crunch the numbers to create the ‘out of this world’ display after the Hollywood comedy hit Deck the Halls.

In the 2006 Christmas film, Danny DeVito’s character Buddy Hall sets himself a mission to use Christmas decorations to make his house visible from outer space – and now homeowners can do the same.

Physics student Ryan Bradley-Evans, from the University of Leicester, said: “Although we oversimplified the factors involved, it was great to see this beloved Christmas film hold-up to the physics involved as often this is not the case.

“And who knows, maybe somebody, someday, reading this will actually try it.”

Fellow physics student Matthew Hough said: “Given our results regarding whether light from a house’s Christmas lights could reach the International Space Station, we have proven that for such a distance it would be possible to make your house bright enough to be seen from space.”

They based their findings around the assumption of zero light pollution so Buddy’s house could appear on MyEarth and be seen from space.

The team’s findings were based on a house having an apparent magnitude of at least +6.5 and the luminosity of a single LED being 4lm and found the lumonosity required for a house to be seen from space to be 10.6 X 103lm.

Student Ryan Heath said: “Physics often stretches the limits of what is physically possible for entertainment purposes.

“By applying known physics to these scenarios we often get unrealistic answers.

“These values calculated are a rough approximation as we considered an ideal case based around the assumption of zero light pollution.”

Razzia Gafur said: “As scientists, we’re always looking for new ways to engage people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“And this paper is a prime example of how we can make science relevant outside of the lab/office.

“It explores physical concepts in a more fun, captivating way by relating it to a popular Christmas movie and showcasing how knowledge of physics can help us understand and answer some of the most exciting and complicated questions – even in fictional situations where limits are often stretched beyond what is physically possible for entertainment purposes.”

The findings were presented in a paper a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s physics and astronomy department.

Course Leader Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer at the University, said: “The aim of the module is for the students to learn about peer review and scientific publishing.

“The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and find ways to apply basic physics to the weird, the wonderful and the everyday.”

By Laura Sharman

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