December 17, 2017

Doing the maths

From the New York Times, in what’s otherwise a really interesting story

The prospectors had unearthed what would come to be called the Patricia Emerald: a dazzling 12-sided crystal roughly the size of a soup can, with a weight of 632 carats — more than a quarter of a pound

If you have a rock `roughly the size of a soup can’ it’s going to weigh more than a soup can roughly the size of a soup can. A standard US can of soup has volume 10 fluid oz, and weighs over half a pound.  The Patricia Emerald is more the size of one of those small coconut cream cans — which, to be fair, is seriously impressive for an emerald.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    Steve Curtis

    As, by definition, 632 carats is 126.4g or
    about a quarter of a pound, why couldnt they just say that.
    Its a silly rule of journalism, any thing with numbers has to be converted to swimming pool or London bus equivalents

    4 weeks ago

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      Eh. I think London bus equivalents are often fairly helpful, but they do need to be approximately correct.

      4 weeks ago