In a recent piece on red-giant star Mira, we rather foolishly suggested that the "comet-tailed" body was travelling across the heavens at roughly 150,000 times the speed of the average sheep. This rash assertion provoked many readers to demand the maximum velocity of a sheep and, more to the point, the maximum velocity of a …
"...eruption of Vesuvius took out an area of 13 milliWales, although the effects of the blast were felt up to a thousand brontosauruses away. Survivors reported rocks and pumice the size of Bulgarian airbags falling from the sky for three days before the tragedy, and experts have calculated the total debris would fill around 120,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools..."
Pure comedy gold!
Inspired. Pettition to replace SI now!
Superb, and so easy to understand. How do we vote to get that daft metric system overthrown?
(This velocity of sheep had me crying with laughter in the office. My colleagues are worried - but not as worried as some of the sheep in your calculations.)
I love it
But one criticism: which "trillion" are we referring to for number of Brontosaurus' (Brontosauri?)?
Personally, I use "million", "billion", and "trillion" to read "mono", "bi", and "tri" respectively. Hence, "1e6", "1e12", and "1e18" (also called long-scale); however, the media have a distressing tendency to take the USA short-scale usage and use "1e6", "1e9", "1e12"...
Just need to make sure that I am quoting the length across the known universe accurately.
It's Friday, isn't it?
I can tell...
I think you'll find...
...that there's no such thing as 'Brontosaurus'. I heard it on QI, and wikipedia confirms it, so it must be true.
'Apatosaurus' would be the correct designation.
I never knew...
...that Verity Stob was in fact Lester and Lucy!
Obsolete unit . .
But surely the Brontosaurus can't be an acceptable unit of measurement since Brontosauruses-es-es no longer exist and have been redesignated as Apatasaurii-ii-ii.
Have a nice weekend.
I have asked my employees to start utilizing these measurement standards as part of their daily reporting duties. I downloaded the text of the article and wrote a quick P&P, with proper credit given of course!
Only one of them questioned my motives... so sad, but so funny.
Thank you for making my day MUCH more entertaining.
"Wales is 20,780 square km x 1 metre depth
= 20,780,000,000 cubic metres = 103,300,000 cubic furlongs
Whatever happened to the gf units?
Which hostelry do you frequent? I want some of that loopy soup!
"everyone knows that Welshmen do not in fact have intimate relations with sheep"
That's because the sheep are so bleedin' fast, but 'twere another story altogether if the Welshmen could start without the 6-pint handicap.
I do wish, however, that _El_Reg_ would stop using speed and velocity interchangably. According to dictionary.com (and my Science instructors, back in the day), speed can be in any direction*, whereas velocity is "A vector quantity whose magnitude is a body's speed and whose direction is the body's direction of motion." I'll grant you that dictionary.com makes that the secondary definition, but if you insist on writing a scientific article, you should stick to the accepted scientific definitions. Incidentally, you neglected to provide the most important unit of volume as defined in gf - how many gf in a pub pint?
* - and that direction can be quite random, to judge from the gits I see driving on the daily commute, particularly on Friday after work.
Oh my word!
When did aManFromMars start writing the articles for the register!
Almost as random!
What about time?
Surely you have missed a trick what with forgetting the other major unit...
The standard short time should be NJS or New York Second which I believe has been defined as the time between the traffic light going green and the car behind you honking its horn!
For longer time periods we have the SBUT or standard boot up time - which given the amount of crap on the machine I have to use at the office is about 5 minutes!
For even longer times we could begin to use distances given we have already defined lengths and speeds! how about time measured in SSxBrontosauri ... heh
Not to be pedantic
but... Wouldn't the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum be 26.22 kilobrontosauruses per nanofortnight?
Greenness in the eye of the beholder
I must take objection to your usage of the unit "Wales" for simple area.
Clearly, a Wales is the measure for a self-serving Wikipedia edit.
The self-servingness of a Wikipedia edit is expressed as the number of characters edited multiplied by the coefficient of modification.
Changing "Wales paid the guy who made the software" to "Wales made the software" is defined as having a coefficient of modification of 1. Thus, this edit has a self-serving value of 13Wales, since we do not count whitespace characters.
Calibration of the coefficient for values smaller or greater than 1 will need a lot of research, but does not make the need for this unit any less. I expect that we will be able to come up with a fairly accurate estimate for the Vatican edits before long.
The joke's on us lot.
Some idiot got PAID for writing that.
PAID, I tell you. PAID.
It reminds me of the time, many years ago, when we worked out an alternative RCF system of units, based on the Rod, Hundredweight and Fortnight.
We didn't get paid though.
<Gets coat and exits for the weekend, wearily shaking head and mumbling>
This article has got to be the best thing that I've read for weeks. Excellent work.
2 Olympic swimming pools...
"...Bill Gates' wealth in _$1m_ dollar bills..."
Methinks that wouldn't be too huge of a pile...
It's all great...
...but the Campbells as a measurement of distance still has me laughing. Then, tossing in Foxy Brown for the example... genius!
Thanks for a great Friday piece.
Serious logical flaw
This is bosh. A starlet cannot use one brain cell. The brain operates holistically, as a function of a network of signals, not by the muscular impulse of isolate cells. A minumum of two brain cells is required to produce a rudimentary panty-shedding response.
"Wouldn't the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum be 26.22 kilobrontosauruses per nanofortnight?"
only until the sheep has run out of pda's to campbell* in the opposite direction
*verb, means to throw viciously
"he felt the raw energy of the four-Bulgarian-funbag powerplant throbbing between his legs"
Oh, lucky bastard...
Shouldn't that be "Brontosauri?"
If I drink 8 pints in a pub, how fast do I run to the toilet after the 6th pint, how far can I get them out of my body again with 1,5 linguines length and most improtant of all, how big does my head feel the other morning if I did not have to pay for anything and thus had to drink at least 10 more pints ?
I've always been fond of the speed of light: 1.80262 furlongs/fortnight
Please provide your workings to at least 5 DP. Please also comment any REALLY tricky stuff.
oops.... make that 1.80262 Trillion furlongs/fortnight.....
re: welshmen & sheep
"since everyone knows that Welshmen do not in fact have intimate relations with sheep and any reference to the same is just a cheap attempt to drum up laughs."
oh yes we bloody do
twice a day & three times on sundays
i alwyas look forward to a bit of sheep dip
I think time could be defined differently... we already have the completely useless "swatch internet time" (a tick is a 1/100th of a day if I remember rightly). No wonder it never caught on: I'll meet you in the pub at 75 ticks past midnight.
We could also go with the time between an article being published and the "where's the IT angle" response, abbreviated to wtita.
For longer durations, there the time between plusnet wiping out customer emails, currently averaging about 4 months I think, or 12,000 ticks.
For longer periods still, we can use the limit of the 32bit unix epoch, approximately 68 years, abbreviated to 32e... should lead to some interesting interpretations: a year being 0.0147058832e
We also need to determine a format for angles... the standard degrees and radians simply aren't good enough...
I'm voting for a standard based on the curve of a banana... the horizontal viewing angle of this monitor, sir? that would be approximately 27 bananas.
How fast is an iPhone?
(haha, some idiot has to mention it!)
Re: Brontosauruses By dave
If the plural of Brontosaurus is Brontosauri, whats the plural of whatatitamus?
OK, that's my coat.
we need to update the frankly archaic "bit", "byte" etc. I suggest renaming the binary digit as the "finger" and moving to a 5-finger - or "hand" - basis for what I'm choosing to call "digital" computing.
Angle of Dangle
By a strange twist of fate, a previous measuring system I was once involved in the development of had a Welsh(man) based unit of angular measure.
Lets say, measure depended upon the observer, and proximity of certain ladies.
Who authorized a change to SHEEP?!
Who is El Reg to start measuring stuff by sheep?!
For aeons the standard measure of speed has been the SWALLOW; the standard measure of distance has been the OCEAN; and the standard measure of weight has been the COCONUT. Not sheep, stars, and grapefruits of all things! Traditional measures area clear, precise, and understood by all. There's no need to go mucking about and getting Science involved.
All this sheep stuff is just gonna confuse people, not to mention making life difficult for lonely adolescent shepherd boys who might not be able to keep up. Now let's have no more of this.
What about ...
We need proper units for describing how hot things are. My suggestion for the base unit is
Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey (bM).
Bath temperature (bT) = 3.14159 bM
Piping Hot (pH) = 5.43656 bM
Now we can start to cook something:
Deposit 1.414 Bulgarian airbags of water in a saucepan and heat to 1.7 pH (9.24 brass monkeys). Add a chicken egg (0.35gf) and wait until it's cooked - 1 sbut if you want to dip soldiers, up to half a wtita if hard boiled is more to your liking.
Mmmm ... time for breakfast
Velocity of sheep in a vacuum ?
surely this is dependent on the energy suplied to the rear of a sheep by a welshman....
DNA would be proud.
This should be submitted as a petition on downing streets website to get the standard units changed,
Genious, i love the reg...
Correct unit for measurement of speed
Since the early 1980's, when I was at school listening to Genesis and the like, we came across the Furlong per Fortnight (the FpF) and this was widely adopted as the measure of speed (well throughout several schools in Worcestershire :o)
Checking on Google reveals information on the FpF at Wikipedia, to quote:
"One furlong per fortnight is very nearly 1 centimetre per minute (to within 1 part in 400). Indeed, if the inch were defined as 2.54 cm rather than 2.54 cm exactly, it would be 1 cm/min. Besides having the meaning of "any obscure unit", furlongs per fortnight have also served frequently in the classroom as an example on how to reduce a unit's fraction. The speed of light may be expressed as being roughly 1.8 terafurlongs per fortnight."
More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_strange_units_of_measurement
I suggest that Vulture Central get with the program and adopt the FpF as the standard unit of speed...
Wales (Wa) Units
Presumably if the lower multiples such as nano, micro and milli Wales are acceptable so are the larger multiples such as DeciWales (DWa) KiloWales(KWa), and maybe even MegaWales(MWa).
This causes me to ask, what is the average length, end of nose to end of tail fin, in KiloWales, of a Killer Whale?
Re. super-sticky particles
>>> Assuming one super-sticky particle per cubic metre (or one brain cell per three starlets - don't ask us to guess which of them is currently using it), <<<
Shurly that is based on the Heisenberg Principle (or should that be the Hasslehof Principle ) wherein the starlet using that one brain cell is the one **NOT** next to Mr. Hasslehof (on the basis that if you can see em, then it - the brain cell - is not there).
@ Pretty lady - It is presumed that that one brain cell can function in the Virtual Machine mode, whereby it can access the computational power of the unused AND unpickled cell(s) in Hasslehof's brain and, thus, obviating the need for massive localised computational power !! Just one local cell plus one from him WILL make the two requisite cells.
Why do Welshmen sh@g sheep?
Because we know the English will eat them.
Know any Paki jokes?
Nice taking the piss out of the Welsh.
Why not make the SI unit for area relative to the area occupied by a Pakistani corner shop?
Or unit of energy relative to a black man dancing (cos they dance so good)?
I'm sure you can think up some more funny ones relative to Jewish noses or Irish stupidity. I guess you'll probably skip anything to do with English arrogance and lack of respect, labelling it "get a sense of humour". Minorities love that.
Well somebody had to get upset about Wales!
Of course, this entire article was written to put Welsh people down and the humourist is wearing a white cowl and a pointy hat and burning people on crosses... Not!!
Comeon guys, I get it that labelling people in a derogatory way when you don't like them is bad, but Wales is a neighbour, and what's the world coming to if you can't have a friendly rib at your neighbours?? We call the French Frogs, and they call us Rostbef and can't work out why the English don't find this insulting.. We call the Scots Jocks, which is not my favourite piece of sports wear, but if a cricket ball is heading in the general direction of my nether regions, I'll be glad if I'm wearing one.. We take the mick out of the Irish, call the Dutch Potheads, and complain that all the Germans run out and put their towels round the pool before dawn.. All of them.. Even when they're at home.. Wales has a lot of wide open spaces, inhabited by sheep and coal mines.. The coalmines were all closed by Thatcher so that's probably a bit of a sore point, which leaves the sheep.. Comon guys, stop bleating about how being labled just because the english can't think about anything cleverer than Sheep intimacy.. It's only because we're jealous.. We've got a sense of humour you know.. if a Welsh person actually say something funny to insult the English with, rather than just "English arrogance and lack of respect" then perhaps we'd laugh with you too! We're not trying to hurt anyone with this sense of humour, it's just the way we are.. If we didn't talk about the Welsh like this, we wouldn't talk about Wales at all!
Finally -- Units that ordinary people understand!
With this article, we now have units we can understand upon sight and thought immediately. The claim of the metric crowd is that we are to move away from units with arbitrary multiples to create larger units. With metrication, we have merely moved from random units to random tens of units, subject to constant revision upon the whim of the SI. I've thought of taking a stretch of road in a "metric" country and placing overlays on their road signs giving measures in their historic values. Imagine the French seeing short distances in toises and long distance in French leagues on the signs of their autoroutes.
No title needed
Come on, be consistent, surely nanoWales isn't the base unit since nanoWales is a billionth of a Wales indicating a Wales is the base unit?
This is the most brilliant piece on el reg I have ever read, Friday or not.
Correction to Correction
Morely Dotes: According to dictionary.com (and my Science instructors, back in the day), speed can be in any direction*, whereas velocity is "A vector quantity whose magnitude is a body's speed and whose direction is the body's direction of motion.
No no no no no no. You have either misunderstood or been mistaught. And if dictionary.com says this, it only goes to show the risk inherent in depending on online references.
Speed has ~no~ direction. But a velocity can be in any direction.The point is that velocity combines in one quantity both speed *and* direction. There will be a pop qviz next week on this point. Review "scalar" vs "vector". Extra credit for quaternions.
"This is what happens when you hit a bird in a Porsche at 250kph."
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