back to article So, what's the velocity of a sheep in a vacuum?

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 …

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Anonymous Coward

Great article, but it's already been thought of...

..by New Scientist magazine's Department of Unusual Units, who coined the milliWales (and other improbable units) some years back!

Steve

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Anonymous Coward

lamp post?

What do you call a sheep chained to a lamp post in wales?

a leasure centre........

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Silver badge

What happened to the interstellar small?

You mention plenty of mediums and larges, but... you seem to have dropped your smalls. Ahem.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh the shame....

The shame, that a story on the velocity of sheep was not produced by a New Zealander. Ah well, I guess I should be thankful of the Welsh background, at least it wasn't by an Ozlander :P

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Flawed Linguine

Sorry chaps, but being an avid pasta-eater, and living just south of Florence, I must correct your fundamental distance unit.

Linguine are most commonly found in Liguria with pesto, while are not that native to Tuscany. Over here we have Fettuccine or Pappardelle, preferrably with wild boar sauce. They differ in being much much wider than Linguine ("little tongues") AND, crucially, they are marginally longer, and weigh more, too!

PLUS, we havent' had practically any rain in the summer, so our grapes are slightly smaller than the EU standard, but they do pack more alcoholic punch. We should be getting some pretty fine Brunelli, in 5 years' time.

So, the result is, we'll keep on partying with our Pappardelle and Brunello, obliviousl to the rest of the world, since we don't expect any Welsh to know how to properly cook the pasta/do the sauce/savour the wine.

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Anonymous Coward

Drag in a vaccuum?

"The theoretical maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum is expressed in sheepsecs (Ssx), calculated as follows:

Speed of light (c) divided by wooldrag (Wd) + Welshmen (Wm), where wooldrag is a species-defined drag coefficient determined by the length and pliability of the fleece and Welshmen is the number of locals who have turned up in their wellies, and are hanging on for dear life."

But how can there be drag if the speed is messured in a vacuum?

Or is the sheep (or the welshmen) in drag?

/Rob

(I'll go get me wool coat).

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Anonymous Coward

Pedantry time.

I have found the deliberate mistake. Using the El Reg search engine (someone has to) I have referred to the original "Bulgarian airbag" story and determined that these are, in fact, 40DD in size. You need to rework the volumetric units to account for this glaring error in your research.

How the hell you could ever reckon the Posh Spice size to even qualify for the "airbag" moniker is beyond me. It's not only inaccurate, it's positively dangerous as airbags that size would offer little or no protection in a frontal collision. For God's sake, what if someone took you seriously? What if that someone worked in automotive design? Think of the children etc. etc......

TeeCee

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Re: How antiquated!

@RichardB

'"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?'

Let p = pi = 3.14159265

IIRC 4/3pr^3= Volume of a Sphere

Given that the article stated a gf had radius 5cm.

4/3 * 3.14159265 * 5^3 = 523.598775cm^3 or ~5.236m^3

So 20,780,000,000 / 5.236 = 3.96867838 × 10^9gf

(I did this really quick, please let me know if there are any errors)

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What about the size of a sheep (as used for holes in roofs)?

Every now and then there is a spate of stories in the press about houses under the approach to London Heathrow being damaged by large lumps of falling green ice. The obvious theory is that a leaking septic tank on an airliner allowed a lump of ice to form during cruise and then drop off as it warmed up on approach to landing.

In several independent press accounts of different "frozen pee" incidents I read that the resulting hole in the roof was "the size of a sheep".

Why this particular unit is so often found to be convenient when measuring roof holes remains a mystery.

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Rod, Hundredweight and Fortnight system

I prefer the "ton-furlong-fortnight" system of units. (At least the name trips better off the tongue.)

I once tried to stir up interest in a "Society for the Promotion of Ergonomically Realistic Measurement", but the acronym got rejected by too many mailers.

There is actually a serious point behind this foolery. We can most easily understand measurements expressed as a number in the range 1 - 10 (or 20, at a pinch). So, it is easier to understand a person's weight given in stone (8 = skeletal, 10 = weakling, if male, 15 = on the heavy side unless it's all muscle on a large frame, 20 = gross) than in pounds (112, 140, 210, 280), or kilogrammes. Height is more understandable in feet and inches than in metres or centimetres.

Also understanding is eased by being able to relate a measurement to the human body. So traditional units such as the inch (length of the top joint of the thumb), foot (obvious), hand (width of hand, as when placing it against the flank of a horse), cubit (extended middle finger to outside of elbow joint, yard (between nose and tip of middle finger on extended arm) are readily grasped for purposes of mental estimation, whereas artificial (supposedly "logical") units such as metres, centimetres and millimetres are less graspable.

For close work, we use inches, and once we need to talk about more than twelve inches, we use feet and inches. I see notices on London double-decker buses to advise the driver of the height of the vehicle expressed in both feet and in millimetres. Which would you expect to be more useful to the driver when a snap decision has to be made as to whether to attempt to drive under a low bridge?

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sheepsecs...

...genius :)

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Anonymous Coward

Bad Brontosaurus Measurement!!!!!!

Geez, you could at least try for accuracy. Going by your figures a Brontosaurus is 138 metres long (15 double-decker buses (ddb)).

GAaaaaaaah!!!! Brontosaurus average length was only 23 metres, or about 2.5 ddb.

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Anonymous Coward

a bijoux quibble

with the volume of Wales calculation. Your area seems to be just 2 dimensional and, as such, suffers from wooly thinking. Everyone knows the Welsh invented hills and valleys and the last time I looked it was pretty heavily populated with both. Now correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm sure you will, but if these are taken into account the volume will increase considerably. Moreover, this "depth of 1 metre" business. If we accept, as I think we must, that Wales is a little bumpy, then from where do we draw the line when measuring depth. The answer, I believe, must be the mean low water mark in Cardiff Bay. This would significantly increase the volume of Wales because it would include the vast bulk of all the hills. The fact that it would also leave us with all the coal you arrogant English twats is by the by.

love Taff.

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And for Speed...

...how about angstroms/century? Just so we can have an easily-graspable, everyday point of reference.

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What no ...

... Nelson's Columns?

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how about working out a new method...

for my employer to calculate salaries?

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Re: a bijoux quibble

@Taff

"Moreover, this "depth of 1 metre" business. If we accept, as I think we must, that Wales is a little bumpy, then from where do we draw the line when measuring depth. "

The hills are irrelevant. Draw a wavy line on a piece of paper now draw another wavy line exactly parallel 1cm (or 1m) below that. OMG!!!!

As for the volume calculation, note the article states the following:

"Wales is 20,780 square km" > Square Km ... as in 2 dimensions.

"x 1 metre depth" > Hey look everyone it's a 3rd dimension!

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Multidimensional Audis

Did anyone spot the advert for the new Audi a few months ago?

Boot space was something like 11 cubic litres. As opposed to the usual sort of litre.

I'd be worried about opening it up and finding a load of Daleks.

Or Cardiff.

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Silver badge

At least

it's still more consistent than American measurements.

The absolute stupidest measuring unit ever invented has got to be the British Thermal Unit. That's enough heat to make 0.454kg. of water 5/9 of a degree C hotter, or about 0.000293kWh., and clearly was invented for purely political rather than utilitarian reasons.

Now, before anybody asks, here's a patch for the popular "units" program. I've also added in the under-used prefix "sesqui" meaning 1.5x.

--- units.dat.orig 2007-08-28 13:53:06.693388720 +0100

+++ units.dat 2007-08-28 14:09:31.963604880 +0100

@@ -161,6 +161,7 @@

hecto- 1e2 # Greek hekaton, "hundred"

deca- 1e1 # Greek deka, "ten"

deka- deca

+sesqui- 1.5

deci- 1e-1 # Latin decimus, "tenth"

centi- 1e-2 # Latin centum, "hundred"

milli- 1e-3 # Latin mille, "thousand"

@@ -4546,6 +4547,34 @@

° degree

#

+# Units from The Register

+#

+

+gf grapefruit

+grapefruit 523.6 cm^3

+walnut .16 gf

+chickensegg .35 gf

+bulgarianairbag 1.1 gf

+bulgarianfunbag 3.27 gf

+football 11.07 gf

+olympicpool 4780114 gf

+

+lg linguine

+linguine 14 cm

+ddb doubledeckerbus

+doubledeckerbus 65.85 lg

+brontosaurus 15 ddb

+campbell 231 lg

+

+wa wales

+wales 20700 km^2

+footballpitch 194.89 nanowales

+belgium 1.47 wales

+

+ssx sheepsec

+sheepsec 5995 km|sec

+

+#

# Localisation

#

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Silver badge

A Serious Question by Registered Post

WOW ....... Eat your heart out Vista, the Register knows your Game........ and are light years ahead in the CyberSpace Race which Matters in terms of Relativity..... as is evidenced by sub-prime performance figures being Virtualised across on your side of the pond.

Go, Reg, Go ....... Boldly.:-) And how heartening to have so many who understand, respond and come up to, nay surpass, vulture_central_standards .............

New NeuReal World Order material?

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max speed of sheep in space

Tut! What if the sheep farts whilst travelling in space??? eh??? Calculate again, tut tut.

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Anonymous Coward

more bijoux quibble

this time @ Thorin.

Take a photograph of Paris Hilton's duvet after a night of rumpy pumpy by mounting (ha) a camera (or sheep if you're welsh) directly above the duvet with said camera fitted with an extremely expensive lens which does not distort the image. Calculate the area of the 2 dimensional image of said duvet. Next, ever so carefully spread out the duvet so there are no bumps and creases recognising that this will be almost impossible to accomplish absolutely. Take another photograph. OMG!!! the area has suddenly increased. How the f*ck did that happen.

But there's more. Now multiply the area calculated from photograph #1 by some arbitary measure of depth. Let's say 1 meter or 0.5 the height of a smallish sheep. Do the same with photograp #2 using the same sheep. OMG again!!! the volume has increased.

So, as my first post so imperfectly tried to point out, it all kinda depends on how you measure the area of Wales. And since you may ask if you knew anything about map construction, precisely which method you used in the first place to construct the map.

Cartography 101.

regards

Taff

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Re: more bijoux quibble

Hmmm I guess the question is really to the author.

When he said "Wales is 20,780 square km" did he mean area (ie: from an overhead perspective such as a map)

or

Did he mean surface area (ie: as you've described with all the hills and valleys normalized/stretched out).

I did find other significant (I guess perhaps arguably) references to the same measurement:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_size_of_Wales (20,779 square km)

http://www.simonkelk.co.uk/sizeofwales.html (20,779 square km)

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AJ Stiles

"The absolute stupidest measuring unit ever invented has got to be the British Thermal Unit. That's enough heat to make 0.454kg. of water 5/9 of a degree C hotter, or about 0.000293kWh., and clearly was invented for purely political rather than utilitarian reasons."

That would be 1 pound of water and 1 degree fahrenheit then.

Sounds pretty straightforward to me.

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Silver badge

@Ben Parr-Ferris

Yes, but it's not a *meaningful* amount.

There was *already* a perfectly good unit for measuring heat ..... the Joule (aka watt-second): one watt of power integrated over one second. Plus the usual variants and multiples (kWh, MWday and so forth).

If they were perfectly happy to borrow Amperes, Volts and Watts for electricity rather than making up their own units, then why invent a different unit just for gas heating (and thereby incidentally prevent easy, like-for-like comparison between fuels)?

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They're at it again

Chenk out

http://space.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn12558&feedId=online-news_rss20

This time it's rain falling in space supersonically.

Plus:

WHERE IS THE PARIS HILTON ANGLE AN ALL THIS?

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@Taff re measuring area...

> So, as my first post so imperfectly tried to point out, it all kinda depends

> on how you measure the area of Wales.

Ah, but you must measure by the "from space" view. If you measure 1m parallel to the local surface then wherever the surface is concave you get parts of Wales that are not measured, and thus belong to England, which is obviously unacceptable, and where the surface is convex you can get areas under the ground that are owned by two different Welshmen, and if one should be Church and the other Chapel then there is potential for great friction...

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Art

@JimC re @Taff re measuring the area of Wales

unfortunately as you're allowing 3D to a depth of 1M the measurement is still in the end a fractal surface (up the Planck length) - though at this scale Wales becomes somewhat immaterial

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@ A J Stiles

I assume you're being ironic - but in case you're not, a joule would be a ludicrous unit to use if you were measuring your water in pounds and your temperature in F.

By the way, its even harder to measure gas today - cubic metres is useless since its energy content varies with season and quality... at least BThus related to a real-world property!

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