back to article Beeb deploys ISS as unit of measurement

It's hats off to the Beeb today for creating the "most marvellously pointless measurement", as our informant Alex Cooksey puts it. In a bold challenge to the linguine, the double-decker bus and the brontosaurus, Auntie has calculated that the estimated $1.1bn in dollar coins currently languishing in US government vaults would, …

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Anonymous Coward

What?

Surely we've got enough standard measurements as it is?

Footall fields, London busses, 747s*, Nelson's column and, for some reason, Wales. We don't need more. Couldn't they have just measured it in Nelson's columns?

* Actually the media usually call them jumbo jets

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They've had better

For instance, one of the experimental devices in CERN was referred to as being 'roughly the size of a mansion', and Britain eats enough crisps to fill a telephone box every three seconds.

And then there was Calder Hall 1, the world's first nuclear plant, which was described as having had produced enough electricity to run a single-bar electric fire for 3 billion years, or something.

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Coat

"almost seven times"

Well, the coins stacked up would reach 2,200km, which is about 6.29x the ISS - so I'd say it's "more than six times", rather than "almost seven times", but hey ho. It's 15714285.7143 linguine by the way.

I will throw in a mod-stirring "where's the IT angle" just for shits and giggles though. And then get my coat.

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FAIL

Not 7

I make it more like 6.28x ISS orbital altitude - bit of a stretch to call it 'almost 7x', but then what's 157 miles between friends?

I bet no-one has factored in the mass of all those coins and thus the pressure at the base of the column which would no doubt flatten the lower coins somewhat (or create a dent in the earth, or both)

I expect if they really tried, they couldn't get above 5x ISS altitude.

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Badgers

What's 157 miles between friends?

About 1827.1864 Brontosauruses.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

You've failed to factor in that the pile would get knocked over by the ISS once you excede 1x the orbital altitude (assuming you build it in the correct orbital plane but there's plenty of other stuff whizzing about up there that would do the job)

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Awesome :D

Saves me doing the conversion!

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Stop

Not enough precision

It's 6.28x. What's the precision difference in football fields?

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Anonymous Coward

Good old SI units

350km is

350,000m is

350,000,000mm

If each coin is 2mm, you could fit 175,000,000 under the ISS. 7x that is 1.225bn.

This does piss me off though, it's not like SI units are difficult to understand. Just say there's 2,400km of them or something.

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LIES!

I make a stack of 1.1bn 2 mm coins (assuming no compression of the coins due to gravity) 2200 km which makes it 6.3 times higher than the ISS. HARDLY nearly 7. Honestly...they're wasting my time.

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Boffin

The maths...

So, if the ISS orbits at 350km, that's 350,000m or 350,000,000mm

Each dollar coin is 2mm thick, so divide that figure by two.

$175,000,000

Multiple that by seven.

$1,225,000,000

So they're only $125,000,000 out...

Perhaps "Just over 6 International Space Stations" would have been more accurate:

$1,050,000,000

Or $50,000,000 out.

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Headmaster

American or British Billion?

Because the Beeb is a British website a British billion has 12 0's in it (as opposed to frail american billion which has 9 0's in it), therefore it is approx 6285 iss's high.

Stupid beeb can't even write proper english anymore, now that facts cleared up.

(Sorry pedantic grmmer will have to do, since I can't find a pedantic fact checking nerd icon).

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Grenade

The so-called "British" billion is a bit of a myth

No, really, it is. There was a pre-SI usage of a billion as 10^12, but it wasn't that popular amongst people who used such number regularly even in Britain, and no wonder - under the same system, 10^9 was a "milliard" and 10^15 was a "billiard", both terms which would no doubt regularly get confused with "million" and "billion" when spoken.

SI rules, dude.

GJC

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Thumb Down

Weird pedantry

According to Hansard on 20th Dec 1974 Harold Wilson stated that the British use of billion would be 1000 million (short-scale).

I too can be a pedant.

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Pedantic grammer will do fine

Afterall, Auntie's English is almost unforgivably dire these days :(

Sad times, bad Beeb :@

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Troll

SI units

Made for people who couldn't be taught the proper system, just like Merkin "English"

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Hmmmm.

6.29 times the orbital height, by my calculations. So more or less correct, but lamentably imprecise.

GJC

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Actually, its not the most pointless

As my place of work have started to use my face as a unit of measurement- A Chris Face. It even has a scale, for example we have a very small faced Lady (Sharon) meaning that you get two Sharon faces to a Chris face. Someone even got pens made to help people remember the measurements!

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Anonymous Coward

there is help available

http://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/

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FAIL

Speeding sheep

Put a sheep on the next Soyuz up to the ISS, give it a good kick it out of the door, and I think you'll find it is doing just over 100% of the speed of the ISS.

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Boffin

Nope

SV = Sheep Velocity (natch)

ISSV = ISS velocity (27,733.8km/h)

SV / 0.2571 = 3.88

27,733,8 * 3.88 = 107,607.144

SV = 107,607.44km/h

Or 1 SV = 3.88 ISSV

Depending how hard you kicked the sheep from the airlock, once released into a vacuum it'd accelerate to just over 1SV (you'd need to measure the force of your kick in Newtons (?) and convert to either km/h or fraction of an SV to get an accurate speed)

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FAIL

Pedantry corner

If Excel is correct, and there's no guarantee of that, the stack would be 6.285714286 times higher than ISS, which is closer to 6 times than 7 times

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What I want to know is...

how do you stop the dollar coins from floating away?

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Headmaster

Coins are heavier than water...

...so they do not float at all.

Oh, you mean in space? Coins are heavier than vacuum, so they do not float at all....

Okay, jokes aside, I know what you mean, but the geostationary orbit is in height of 36 000 km (or 22000 miles), so they would have to stack up a much more coins to reach the height where the centrifugal force beats the gravity.

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title

"how do you stop the dollar coins from floating away?"

Keep them away fron the Government.

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OK...

I'm taking it we're using American billions rather than British Billions then? That'll explain why my number was so different :p

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Billions

There are some arguments that it's wise to give up on, however correct you are. This one was "lost" several decades ago and I'm afraid most British people use the "American" billion.

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Go

Doesn't the American system make more sense though?

I mean thousand, million, billion, trillion, quadrillion- you know how many sets of three 0s there are behind the lead number. Once you throw in special cases (thousand, thousand million, billion) you get screwy results from that.

It's one of the few Americanisms that actually makes sense (unlike, say, dropping letters or ignoring grammar during speech and ending each sentence with an upward inflection.).

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Megaphone

Auntie wrong again!

6.29 does not equal 7, nor does it round up to 7 except in the clearly related worlds of tax forms and male boasting.

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Pint

No wonder

Did anyone actually think that a journalist could do math?

More important to Reg readers, how many pints does that equal?

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Pint

Beer-o-metric calculation

Okay, I can do this.

Height of a pint glass is 15cm, according to wikipedia.

15cm = 0.15m = 0.00015km

Altitude of the ISS = 350km

350km / 0.00015 = 2,333,333 pints (because you can't have .3 of a pint)

2,333,333 * 6.29 = 14,676,666 pints in height

So, $1.1 billion dollars is the same as 14,676,666 pints. Given the price my local is charging, this seems about right to me.

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Coat

Height of a pint glass

"Height of a pint glass is 15cm, according to wikipedia."

I hope you checked it's veracity!

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erm, havent you all missed something?

The innacuracy in 'about 2mm' when talking about the hieght of the space station is huge (small error multiplied millions of time over = big error)

Would be much better to stack 100 of them, measure, and go from there. Then you may find the reported multiple more correct?

I for one welcome our coinstacking, space station measuring, wealthy overlords.

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FAIL

Never seen a $1 coin, never seen an ISS

To paraphrase Edmund Blackadder: "So what you're telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen, is 7x taller than something else you have never seen"

Whenever I'm in the US, my money is made of paper and lives in my wallet.

OTOH, The ever-expanding fistfull of worthless shrapnel in my pocket that's making me limp? Maybe there's been a dollar coin in there, but TBH I don't think I'd notice it. God bless sales tax, which ensures everything costs a few cents over $x.

I discovered that American wallets don't seem to come with coin purses, and I can see why.

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Silver badge

Errm...

"The ever-expanding fistfull of worthless shrapnel in my pocket that's making me limp?"

All that loose change causes erectile dysfunction?

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Flame

How did you calculate it?

So, did all who got to the measure calculate it by hand?

I simply opened a Python shell and typed:

(2 * 10 ** -6) * (1.1 * 10 ** 9) / 350.0

Beat it C boys! :P

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Paris Hilton

1.21 Jiggawatts?

I always thought the ISS's height changed a fair bit, both due to orbital decay and the necessity to avoid space turds and other such debris?

Besides, its a pointless allegory - I can't picture how far away the ISS is, and am unlikely to be allowed to visit, just to go "ohh, its quite high isn't it". Lengths of Wales or football pitches would be far better.

Paris because of her experience in length, width and girth.

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Paris Hilton

Jiggawatts?

How about Juggawatts!

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Silver badge
Coat

is required, i know

"the average speed of the ISS is 27,743.8 km/h, which is a paltry 0.2571 per cent of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum"

Still a lot faster than the maximum airspeed of an unladen swallow (European or African)

</python>

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Anonymous Coward

We don't need no steenkin facts.

Why are people surprised that a journalist has made a pretty innacurate statement in order to pump up their article? Mr Jornalism once passed Mr Accuracy and Mr Integrity in the corridor but all they did was nod and one another and keep walking.

In journalism a rotting corpse can be 'a little unwell' if that suits the twist the journalist wants just as much as person with a light cold can be 'on deaths door' if it helps make the article stand out.

Spin, puffery or just plain bullshit, it's all normal for politicians, marketing and journalism. For a while there under Labour even scientists started to do it but thankfully it blew up in their faces.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: We don't need no steenkin facts.

Quite so. There are literally no journalists with any integrity at all. Your sweeping statement is spot on, and contains not a trace of irony.

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Headmaster

And why not?

...considering the Astronomical Unit, parsec and light year? SI units my arse. What's wrong with petametres and exametres: too poetical? Ah, I forgot, the Septics can't do decimals.

All hail the $pacebuck (reg. trademark, pat. mustard). Is it lunchtime yet?

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Coat

Maximum speed...

I thought the maximum speed of a sheep in a vacuum was c=300 000 kps=~186 000 miles/sec. There is of course, so resistance in vacuum, so only the universal speed limit applies. Actually, we don't really know if it's a universal limit (or indeed, the constant it's alleged to be), as all our experiments have been carried out in an extremely limited area...

Mine's the one with The Space Traveller's Guide to Mars in the pocket.

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Joke

This of course would be a sheep.......

..........that had achieved infinite mass and caused a major dispruption in the spacetime continuum. "In space no one can hear you bleat".

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Stop

dear oh dear

Laughing royally at all of you typing out the maths.. the point of this articel surely is that instead of giving some silly comparison, the Beeb are actually insulting our intelligence, by thinking that we need to know how much $1.1bn is when stacked up in $1 coins.

I for one know how much $1.1bn is... it's $1.1bn

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Black Helicopters

I won't be confounded by your silly "facts"!

Actually we all got that. We just couldn't resist the simple pleasure of doing some maths.

Since you don't seem adept at doing calculations – "$1.1bn is $1.1bn", how terminaly bland! – it's obvious you're not from here. In fact, you can only be an spy from the Intelligent Toasters (or less likely but still plausible, the Beeb) out to get our names and IP addresses.

Fnord!

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FAIL

Height of the ISS is?

I assumed it to be somewhere of the order of 60 feet. If they meant the height of the orbit, why didn't they say so?

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Coat

Hmph...

I'm starting to think the answer should've just been posted in the article. After reading about a dozen posts bearing roughly the same answer to the math question, I find myself severely amusement-deprived. Yes, I did the math too, but I'm not about to mistakenly presume that (a) I'm the only one who did, and (b) anyone cares.

Instead I will buck the trend by pointing out that, given the sheer number of coins, heat expansion as well as nasty accumulated coin-schmutz (a.k.a. grime) would be factors that would noticeably affect the total height of the stack. Not to mention that you'd need to measure from exactly the same land elevation and/or the same distance from the earth's core and...ugh.

Screw this...I'm going to watch some Zero Punctuation videos. Laters.

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Anonymous Coward

Almost

I think six is almost seven to most people.

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