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• ## Re: {MPML} Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

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• This somewhat begs the issue: one may say half the distance to the moon because one may not be able to conceptualize 150,000 km, even if you run 10K races
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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This somewhat begs the issue: one may say "half the distance to the moon"
because one may not be able to conceptualize 150,000 km, even if you run
10K races and know full well how much one km is. So OK on comparisons that
are "off scale" of common experience, but even a moronic twit knows how
much 3 meters is, or if he has the misfortune to be American, how much 10
feet is. There seems little need for such comparisons when the scale being
mentioned is in the range of common experience.

As for metric versus English units, we would do well to "just do it", and
let the public catch on. One \$300 speeding ticket and even the dimmest
moron would learn the conversion from miles to km right away. Likewise for
kg, liters, etc. Living in Hawaii, Dave, how long did it take for
Hawaiians to figure out how much gas is a liter? One "fill 'er up" with
only a \$10 bill in your pocket would deliver a message firmly remembered.

At 04:43 PM 4/24/2012, Dave Tholen wrote:
> > Yet.....if the press release had been issued with "3 meters across",
> > the phones would be ringing from twit reporters who do not know how
> > "large" that is and wanting something to compare it to. Believe me
> > ....that would happen and does all the time.
>
>Yep; standard operating procedure is to make comparisons to known
>things: half the distance to the Moon, rather than 150000 km;
>forty times farther from the Sun than Earth, rather than 40 AU.
>Which helps to avoid the other problem mentioned, namely having
>approximate values converted into precise values in other units.
>conversion is exact.
>
>
>------------------------------------
>
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>Posts to this list or information found within may be freely used, with
>the stipulation that MPML and the originating author are cited as the
>source of the information.Yahoo! Groups Links
>
>
>
*****************************************************************************
Alan Harris Phone: 818-790-8291
4603 Orange Knoll Ave.
email: harrisaw@...
*****************************************************************************
• FYI (in 2 tweets) Meteor News. Robert Ward announced that he found a small fragment in the Henningsen Lotus Park just west of Coloma, CA. It s a CM chondrite!
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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FYI (in 2 tweets)
Meteor News. Robert Ward announced that he found a small fragment in the Henningsen Lotus Park just west of Coloma, CA. It's a CM chondrite!

The piece was found at the site of the radar signature #daymeteor

I will send a link to the pic to the meteorite fragment when it is available.

Cheers
F.
On Apr 24, 2012, at 2:15 PM, Alan W Harris wrote:

> At 01:41 PM 4/24/2012, Ron Baalke wrote:
>
> >http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-114
> >
> >Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?
>
> Ron,
>
> If you had anything to do with the production of this press release, I want
> to tell you that the unit conversions in it are a disgrace to any thinking
> person, especially one who pretends to be scientific. You should have
> learned in high school, if not before, the art of rounding off to
> "significant figures", and avoid conversions that leave a false sense of
> accuracy of the converted numbers. Backing out numbers from 70 tons, I
> infer the dimension referred to is "about 3 meters", which should be stated
> for those of us who don't know or give a damn the size of a minivan. That
> very nicely converts to "about ten feet" for the metrically challenged
> fraction of the universe we live in. Likewise, "70 metric tons" could as
> well be left ambiguous as "about 70 tons", since the accuracy of the
> estimate is less than the difference (~10%) between metric and English tons
> (thank G** for that, but don't get me started on religion -- JPL has enough
> trouble with that right now). In any case "70 metric tons" should not
> convert to "154,300 pounds"; 150,000 would be OK, if you must, but tons (of
> either flavor) is just fine.
>
> And please don't beg off that "Media Relations did it." If they quote you
> (Yeomans) you should be shown the draft of what is written, and you should
> demand some control over it. If we as technically competent folks don't
> slam back at the media we'll be stuck in the hole of English units for
> eternity, and also the laughing stock of those reasonably literate
> non-scientists for putting out WAGs to 4 significant figures. Fortunately
> the release doesn't say "An event of this size might happen about once in
> 365.25 days," but it wouldn't surprise me if some media idiot were to make
> that conversion.
>
> *****************************************************************************
> Alan Harris Phone: 818-790-8291
> 4603 Orange Knoll Ave.
> email: harrisaw@...
> *****************************************************************************
>
>
• Reminds me of the old joke where the scientist takes a museum tour, and is surprised to hear the museum guide say This dinosaur fossil is 72,000,004 years
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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Reminds me of the old joke where the scientist takes a museum tour, and is
surprised to hear the museum guide say "This dinosaur fossil is 72,000,004
years old." So later the scientist asks "How do you know exactly how old
that dinosaur fossil is?" and the museum guide replies "Well, they told me
when I started working here that it was seventy-two million years old, and
I've been here four years."

On Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 5:18 PM, <lebofsky@...> wrote:

> **
>
>
> I reviewed a children's book where the temperature at the center of the
> Sun was 27,000,032 degrees F! That is what the conversion formula gives
> for 15,000,000 degrees C!
>
>

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
• ... When I moved here in 1983, gasoline was sold by the liter. Rumor has it that they did that to avoid the expense of installing new hardware that was
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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> Living in Hawaii, Dave, how long did it take for Hawaiians to figure
> out how much gas is a liter? One "fill 'er up" with only a \$10 bill
> in your pocket would deliver a message firmly remembered.

When I moved here in 1983, gasoline was sold by the liter. Rumor has
it that they did that to avoid the expense of installing new hardware
that was capable of being set to a price higher than 99.9 cents per
whatever. Then they passed a law, and now it's all in gallons. So
Hawaiians already knew how much gas was a liter before I got here.
• ... Interesting. I guess when the price of gas went over \$1/liter, they might as well switch back to gallons and install the new hardware. They may be
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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At 07:30 PM 4/24/2012, Dave Tholen wrote:
> > Living in Hawaii, Dave, how long did it take for Hawaiians to figure
> > out how much gas is a liter? One "fill 'er up" with only a \$10 bill
> > in your pocket would deliver a message firmly remembered.
>
>When I moved here in 1983, gasoline was sold by the liter. Rumor has
>it that they did that to avoid the expense of installing new hardware
>that was capable of being set to a price higher than 99.9 cents per
>whatever. Then they passed a law, and now it's all in gallons. So
>Hawaiians already knew how much gas was a liter before I got here.

Interesting. I guess when the price of gas went over \$1/liter, they might
as well switch back to gallons and install the new hardware. They may be
hoisted by their own petard if they didn't allow for setting above
\$9.999/gallon, and have to go back to liters for a while.

I guess I'm out of date. Last time I was in Hawaii buying gas it was under
\$4 a gallon and they were still running in liters. Times change. But I
think you agree, folks adapt and learn fast when there's a hand on their
wallet.

*****************************************************************************
Alan Harris Phone: 818-790-8291
4603 Orange Knoll Ave.
email: harrisaw@...
*****************************************************************************
• Blame it on the chinese. If they were selling their stuff with metric screws, metric dimensions in the USA it would already go in the right direction. Pretty
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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Blame it on the chinese. If they were selling their stuff with metric
screws, metric dimensions in the USA it would already go in the right
direction. Pretty soon everybody would use the metric system, which
really is a much better system that this antique thing you are still
make a 17/64 of an inch hole... Damned, who is so stupid to use values
like this. Had to get a pocket calculator to find the next correct
drill.
But I agree that it's about time everybody uses the same units, and
that when people have to pay things, the conversion goes faster...
The problem in this type of conversion in scientific/technical domain
is that it shows that people writing it don't have a clue about what
Alain

Alan W Harris <harrisaw@...> a écrit :

> At 01:41 PM 4/24/2012, Ron Baalke wrote:
>
>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-114
>>
>> Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?
>
> Ron,
>
> If you had anything to do with the production of this press release, I want
> to tell you that the unit conversions in it are a disgrace to any thinking
> person, especially one who pretends to be scientific. You should have
> learned in high school, if not before, the art of rounding off to
> "significant figures", and avoid conversions that leave a false sense of
> accuracy of the converted numbers. Backing out numbers from 70 tons, I
> infer the dimension referred to is "about 3 meters", which should be stated
> for those of us who don't know or give a damn the size of a minivan. That
> very nicely converts to "about ten feet" for the metrically challenged
> fraction of the universe we live in. Likewise, "70 metric tons" could as
> well be left ambiguous as "about 70 tons", since the accuracy of the
> estimate is less than the difference (~10%) between metric and English tons
> (thank G** for that, but don't get me started on religion -- JPL has enough
> trouble with that right now). In any case "70 metric tons" should not
> convert to "154,300 pounds"; 150,000 would be OK, if you must, but tons (of
> either flavor) is just fine.
>
> And please don't beg off that "Media Relations did it." If they quote you
> (Yeomans) you should be shown the draft of what is written, and you should
> demand some control over it. If we as technically competent folks don't
> slam back at the media we'll be stuck in the hole of English units for
> eternity, and also the laughing stock of those reasonably literate
> non-scientists for putting out WAGs to 4 significant figures. Fortunately
> the release doesn't say "An event of this size might happen about once in
> 365.25 days," but it wouldn't surprise me if some media idiot were to make
> that conversion.
>
> *****************************************************************************
> Alan Harris Phone: 818-790-8291
> 4603 Orange Knoll Ave.
> email: harrisaw@...
> *****************************************************************************
>
>
• As I noted some time ago when I took a poll of the readers of this list, I m not interested in squashing discussion as long as it remains on topic. I believe I
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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As I noted some time ago when I took a poll of the readers of this list,
I'm not interested in squashing discussion as long as it remains on
topic. I believe I also added that once your position is clear to all,
it's probably time to stop.

I believe those of you with an opinion and the desire to post it on this
list concerning unnecessary precision in conversions have made their
positions clear.

I also stressed in that not so long ago post that if you have a problem
with Ron's posts, take it up with HIM.

If you get no satisfaction from him, bump it up the chain of command.
Little can be or is accomplished by complaining on MPML. That doesn't
mean I don't agree that scientific/technical releases should not strive
to be correct. They should be. It isn't that hard to get these things
written correctly.

However, my guess is if you are repeatedly lodging these complaints to
Ron's superiors and over the years nothing has changed, you are
essentially pissing up a rope. By posting it here you are essentially
allowing all of us to watch.

--
Richard A. Kowalski
MPML
• ... That s 1/64 larger than 1/4, so it was probably a hole to fit over a 1/4 part. The only good thing about non-metric is it keeps your math skills fresh ;)
Message 1 of 14 , Apr 24, 2012
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> From: "amaury@..."
>
> make a 17/64 of an inch hole... Damned, who is so stupid to use values
> like this. Had to get a pocket calculator to find the next correct
> drill.

That's 1/64 larger than 1/4, so it was probably a hole to fit over a 1/4" part.

The only good thing about non-metric is it keeps your math skills fresh ;)

-John
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