Liberal Arts Blog — Points of Comparison — Blue Whales, Embryology, Semiconductors
Liberal Arts Blog — Monday is the Joy of Math, Statistics, Shapes, and Numbers Day
Today’s topic: Points of Comparison — Blue Whales, Embryology, Semiconductors
Fathoming the unfathomable. Sometimes numbers are so large your eyes just glaze over. You look in desperation for a point of comparison. Ever had this problem? In that condition, have you ever found a solution? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate?
THE BLUE WHALE — HOW BIG IS 200 TONS?
1. About the weight of an electric-diesel locomotive.
2. About the weight of the Space Shuttle (empty — not counting the rocket boosters, the external tank, and the fuel which weighed 20X more than the Shuttle itself)
3. About 20X the weight of Tyrannosaurus Rex (just 10 tons).
NB: About the weight of a 2000 square foot house.
FROM 1 CELL TO 37 TRILLION IN 9 MONTHS
1. But just fold a paper in half 40 times. How high would it be?
2. Seriously. Do the math. Long hand.
3. Would you believe that paper would be taller than the distance to the moon? Seriously, do the math. Long hand. Every child should do this. Third grade? Fourth grade?
HOW SMALL IS NANO? HOW FAR CAN MOORE’S LAW GO?
1. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick, about the same as a human hair.
2. “If the diameter of a marble were one nanometer, the diameter of the earth would be a meter.”
3. Your fingernails grow about 1 nanometer per second.
NB: Can you fit more angels on the head of a pin than you can transistors on an integrated circuit? In the 1970s, a few thousand on a chip, these days, tens of billions. The latest Apple 5g phone has a 5 nanometer transistor!!!!!
Last three years of posts organized thematically:
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to math, statistics, or numbers in general. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to math.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.