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17 February 2013

What-if-numbers: A twitter feed for physicists

Randall Munroe is the author of xkcd, the online comic for nerds.  He has been writing a weekly "what if" column, in which he answers crazy fermi-style questions like "If the Hubble telescope were aimed at earth, how detailed would the images be?"  or "What if I took a swim in a spent nuclear fuel pool?"

Well, of course Mr. Munroe has to conduct considerable research in order to write with anything approaching the accuracy that his amazingly numerate readers demand.  He's decided to post the most interesting of the numerical values he unearths in his day to day reading.  Check out "whatifnumbers".  I'm a total twitter noob, yet I'm having an easy and fun time reading his discoveries, such that it would take 2.18 ounces of gold to buy one ounce of 64 GB micro SD cards.  

I have my own contribution to the literary genre of crazy-arse fermi-style questions:  Check out this post from my old baseball column -- search for "octopus."  I discussed in great numerical detail what portion of Detroit-area octopus sales are for hockey purposes rather than for consumption.  Perhaps I'll pose this question to Mr. Munroe.

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