back to article It’s official: Google shrinks the world!

An anonymous reader has pointed us to this slip in Google Calculator: someone – or something – picked the wrong units for Earth’s escape velocity. If you ask Google – using the search term "Earth Escape Velocity" – and you’ll get the result in the shot below. Is that a comma or a decimal? Google's response to a search for Earth …

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Coat

Re: That's what happens when you ...

More likely this stems from the many times that the hippies working at Google skipped Calculus to smoke out instead.

Differentiation or weed? Tough choice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's what happens when you ...

Or just someone not checking their work properly

Not EVERY mistake in IT is due to off-shoring, we're quite capable of making our own cock-ups thank you very much

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Silver badge

Re: That's what happens when you ...

"Not EVERY mistake in IT is due to off-shoring"

Quite correct. But certain forms of punctuation, combined with kids (mis)managing the development process, are guaranteed to lead to this kind of gaff.

People forget ... google is still a teenager. And like most teenagers, they seem to think they know it all. Get back to me after they have graduated college ... or maybe a decade after that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's what happens when you ...

Or it was just an error, organisations, young and old, big and small all make them!

Trying to extrapolate one small event to define an organisation is a bad habit to get into

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Boffin

Are you anti-European and anti SI?

11,190 km/s is European format for what the British or Americans would write as 11,190 m/s or 11.190 km/s

It's all in the comma / dot difference between European and British / American number usage.

Also 11,190 km/s is good SI usage, 11,190 m/s is not.

The k M G etc prefixes are used to make the numerical value fall in the range 0 to 999

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Re: Are you anti-European and anti SI?

That theory only holds if they use it everywhere. Google would still have shrunken the earth, now to 40,1 km in diameter, if you take a look at the info box to right in the first picture.

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Headmaster

Re: Are you anti-European and anti SI?

For future reference come the revolution when the geek shall inherit the Earth does anybody have the names of those responsible for that typographical disaster waiting to happen.

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Thumb Down

Re: Are you anti-European and anti SI?

I'm sorry but we will have no truck with the comma instead of decimal point nonsense around here.

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Re: Are you anti-European and anti SI?

"It's all in the comma / dot difference between European and British / American number usage.

Also 11,190 km/s is good SI usage, 11,190 m/s is not"

That's as may be, but google.co.uk and google.com are using the same notation - you can't argue that Brits are seeing European notation because that's what they've deemed is appropriate.

I also note that "the speed of light = 299 792 458 m / s", which clearly demonstrates that their preferred thousands delimeter is the space (consistent with SI recommendation) but they're not using the prefixes as you suggest they ought...

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Wolfram Alpha gives it as 11.18 km/s

Or, in most European countries, that would be 11,18 km/s

By the way, is today 10/9 or 9/10. Depends on where on the globe you live.

But I am surprised that Google missed this one.

Still why the discrepancy with Wolfram Alpha?

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Def
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Coat

Actually, today is 2010/10/11.

(As evidenced by El Reg: 'Posted Thursday 11th October 2012 05:58 GMT')

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DJO
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FAIL

"Actually, today is 2010/10/11."

Or perhaps 2012/10/11 or as the 'merkins might say 10/11/12 which makes a nice but unimportant sequence.

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Headmaster

Isn't that Japanese format?

I prefer to eschew the punctuation in dates and just go for 20121011, but the SI format is 2012-10-11

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Def
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Happy

Re: Isn't that Japanese format?

Ah yes, you're correct. I can never remember whether the separator is - or /

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Paris Hilton

Of course,

This is escape velocity at the Earth's surface, right? Had a discussion with a colleague who insisted that you actually had to achieve EV to get into orbit. (Which, arguably, you do, but probably not the 11-and-a-bit km/s).

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Joke

Airspeed Velocity

In relation to Swallows, is that laden or unladen?

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Re: Airspeed Velocity

OK - I'll bite: African or Europen swallow?

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Black Helicopters

Must not resist

It is becoming increasingly difficult to escape Google's hold on the earth.

Documented on the Internetz, must be tru.

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WTF?

Errmmm...

Maybe I'm missing something obvious but if the escape velocity has increased 1,000 fold along with the gravity, how exactly has the radius shrunk? A quick google and some very rough guestimates would say that if the escape velocity has increased then so must it's mass by a proportional amount. Perhaps a thousand fold? Maybe but if so then this would put the radius of the earth somewhere between Saturn's and Jupiter's.

Or am I being a complete dumbass and missing something obvious? I'm confused with this 6 meter radius thing...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errmmm...

I would say the same. I think something went wrong, or it's a black hole (not likely).

I can't be bothered to fire up Wolfram to do the proper calculations. I'd expect something like the Sun or Jupiter to need the escape velocity required.

At a guess, perhaps Google is mistaking the comma and printing one error out, then mistaking it when typing it back in too. Thus an error for both the output of escape velocity and when inputting escape velocity.

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Boffin

Re: Errmmm...

"Maybe I'm missing something obvious but if the escape velocity has increased 1,000 fold along with the gravity, how exactly has the radius shrunk?"

Because escape velocity is calculated using both the mass and the radius of the earth, specifically it's sqrt(2GM/r). So to achieve the thousand fold increase, you can either keep the mass or radius constant and change the other by a factor of 1,000,000 (Mass up by this value, or radius down by this value), which if you read the rest of the article, they do both these options.

Or you can play and get a variety of options. You could put mass up by 1,000 and radius down by 1,000 and achieve the same result. Or any other factors of 1,000,000 (m up by 2, radius down by 500,000

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Errmmm...

Because in the calculation where it comes out at about 6 metres, it still has the same mass as it does now. So something with the same gravity constant and the same mass as earth but 1000 times higher escape velocity must be much smaller and dense (like a neutron star).

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Paris Hilton

Re: Errmmm...

Fair enough but intuitively if something had the mass of Earth it would be unlikely to be so dense as to be only 6 meters across unless it was what was left over from a neutron star or black hole. From a purely practical point of view, I can't see something with the mass of Earth being that small - it just doesn't have the...well, mass, to achieve that kind of density. if that's the case, then you can't keep the mass constant in the calculation. Or am I missing something again?

Why Paris? 'cos I'm feeling that blond right now

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Silver badge

Re: Errmmm...

So play with the numbers however suits you best - it's a lighthearted calculation based on a google fubar. Reduce the radius by x and increase the mass by y, where xy=10^6, as already explained.

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Anonymous Coward

Ahhhhh!

When you say "shrink the earth 1000 times" I assume that excess rock is THROWN AWAY not reduced to degenerate matter! :D

So yes, 6m of the same mass would be a stupid escape velocity. 6m of normal rock (a very small asteroid) would have a very small escape velocity. Makes sense now.

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Headmaster

El. Reg can't even get El. Reg units right!

The old classic Routemaster London bus was about 9m long, the current "BorisBus" Routemasters are more like 11m long. So it's probably fair to say that the El. Reg "a London bus" is 10m ±1m.

If Google's evil criminal masterminds have indeed shrunk the world to 6.365m radius, then that's a good bit smaller than "a London bus".

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J P
Coat

Re: El. Reg can't even get El. Reg units right!

So you mean they've shrunk the London Bus too?

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Re: El. Reg can't even get El. Reg units right!

A quick check on the El. Reg standards converter seems to show that the official "London bus" chosen for the job was the classic Routemaster at 9.2m. Whatever, the new Google shrunken Earth radius is only ⅔ of that.

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Coat

Dot Com(ma)

The decimal point/comma thingy fazes me, too. I work in Europe, where electronic gadgetry is customarily set for the comma protocol (the point is the thousands separator). Being British born-and-bred, I often instinctively input numbers using my native convention ... until error messages alert me. (Don't make life easier for myself, either, by setting my home computer to the British system.) Funny thing is that numeric keypads on ATM machines, etc. only offer the option of a decimal point -- which is duly interpreted to mean a comma. Also, some companies here express the date as yyyy-mm-dd whilst others use dd-mm-yyyy.

Mine's the one with an abacus and notched stick in the pocket.

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FAIL

Your second one says km/s rather than m/s. The calculator is fine.

Tut tut tut el reg!

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Comma chameleon

If this were a Euro vs UK / US convention issue rather than a mistake, then why would they have a zero at the end of the value?

In the non-EU version (in km) we'd say 11.19 km/s rather than 11.190 km/s right? I assume the EU is no different in this regard.

Please enlighten me fellow commentards :)

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Trollface

American Units

All of this talk of m/s and km/s confuses me. Fortunately, I was able to work out that escape velocity is 230 trillion hogsheads per acre per fortnight. And before you ask, that's an honest American trillion, not one of those funny European trillions.

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The earth always looks a little like a bus to me when viewed from certain angles. Maybe Google is right?

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