New Times, Bigger Stuff

10 Aug

I read in most of the newspapers this week about a huge slab of ice that broke away from Greenland. And while I can understand its desire to leave Greenland, that is one serious block of ice.

This ice-block, apparently, is the size of no less than four Manhattans. Why Manhattans? How many people really know how big that is? I imagine almost nobody, even those actually living on Manhattan, knows how big that is. What’s wrong with units such as square metres (or square yards, for the unit-challenged)? Or even acres? Or how long it takes an un-laden swallow to fly across it?

When I were a lad, crisps were tuppence and you could drive a car when…

Oh wait, wrong when-I-were-a-lad anecdote. Start over.

When I were a lad we measured large things in units of football fields. I am informed that in the UK big things are measured by how many times Wales could be squeezed into them. This makes sense as everybody is born with an instinctive understanding of how big Wales is. You can see it now, can’t you?

Anyway, it’s safe to say that’s a big motherfucking slab of ice, Manhattan or no Manhattan. That and the horrible fires in Russia might be a hint about the world not being quite well in the whole hot-cold direction. That’s all I’m saying.

Chin chin.

/ paddy


Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Media


Tags: , , , , , ,

16 responses to “New Times, Bigger Stuff

  1. SirPe

    August 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm


    I seem to remember tennis courts being used as units of measure too, but those were obviously for the less huge stuff than… er… the stuff measured in football fields.

    • paddyK

      August 10, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      And what about Australian football pitches, eh?

  2. Rolf

    August 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Good thing that that ice slab will not increase the level of the sea. It was already floating in the sea before it broke off, when it melts it will take less place, and the more it goes towards the equator, the more sunshine it will reflect back to space. In fact it will help the fight against the temperature rise. Let’s just hope that no skippers are blind enough to crash into it.


    • paddyK

      August 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      Of course, water expands when it’s warmer, and it was also weighed down by polar bears. Right?

      • Rolf

        August 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm

        But the polar bears weigh down equally when on land, so no difference. As for the expanding warmer water, it also vaporises more easily, then falling down again as snow over the polar areas. Business as usual. Hmm… I wonder how much I could make people to pay for a weekend on that ice slab… premium prices for viewing the falling apart at ringside?


  3. SK

    August 10, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    The Register tried to put all these alternative measurements on a proper scientific footing a while back –

    They resurrected the article today after the BBC uses the height of the ISS as a unit of distance.

    • paddyK

      August 10, 2010 at 10:33 pm

      I do like the speed of sheep in a vacuum. However, in a deep-space vacuum there is no acceleration, so the velocity depends only on the initial impulse. Well it does.

  4. SK

    August 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Oh yeah, and this was their explanation for the units:

    They gave an example of the new units in action: “The 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.”

    • paddyK

      August 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      I have given 15 nanowhos of attention to this comment.

  5. anaglyph

    August 11, 2010 at 12:54 am

    At least we still have whisky.

    • paddyK

      August 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

      I have many mega-gills of whisky.

  6. ladyfi

    August 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Oh, you mean they weren’t measuring that ice slab in terms of how many drinks big it was? ;-)

    • paddyK

      August 12, 2010 at 7:27 am

      No, only how big it looked after 4 Manhattans.

  7. Glen Gordon

    August 12, 2010 at 7:04 am

    How many Winnipegs are in a Manhattan anyway?

  8. paddyK

    August 12, 2010 at 7:28 am

    It depends on your definition of a peg.

  9. Kaleberg

    August 15, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Gee, and you were just using Yellowstone Park as the basis for describing your carbon footprint. How many Manhattans is that?


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