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A university physics lecturer who spent 35 years counting the number of pebbles on a British beach on Tuesday challenged the public to prove his answer of 100 billion wrong.

Dr. Malcolm Cornwall of the University of Sussex in southern England used a mathematical theory -- the order of magnitude -- to count the stones on Brighton Beach, saying the task would take thousands of years for any challenger.

"It would take one man counting at a rate of one pebble per second about 2,500 years to add them all up by hand," the 63-year-old said of the stony stretch of beach immortalized in Graham Greene's novel "Brighton Rock."

He said he originally started counting the stones as a project for his students -- who have left his class decades ago.

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