Friday, October 23, 2009

The Great Flood (FPOTW)

Recall the opening moments of the movie Water World, with Keven Costner?

At the beginning is shown a graphic of the Earth with continents and the poles while some guy whines about mankind unleashing a great flood by melting the poles and flooding the lands. Hold on... wasn't that God's fault? He (She... it... what... existence proof not needed) already did that once already, right?
I digress...
Anyhow, the graphic shows that all the land disappears under water and humanity is forced to live on the world spanning ocean, tattooing maps on kids backs and drinking their own urine rather than filtering the sea water.

Now, in the Bible, God flooded the Earth cause he was pissed or something, and gave warning to Noah to build an ark and save his critters. (I guess God can flood the Earth, but can't be bothered to save the critters herself)
It rained for 40 days and 40 nights and covered the highest mountain to a depth of 2 fathoms. Wow, this sounds a bit like the depth of the supposed water world.

Fermi problem time!

---- Start Fermi Problem ----

Estimate the change in the level of the oceans if the poles were to melt. (Watch out here, there is a standard trick question involved... think of melting ice cubes)

Estimate how much water is needed to cover the Earth such that the highest mountain was under water.

Compare this volume of water to that of the current volume of the seas.

If it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, how much water per square meter per second would have to rain down?

---- End Fermi Problem ----

God, of course, can do anything... including violating common sense.
What is Hollywood's excuse?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Balloon Boy, what have you cost us? (And who should pay?)

Balloon Boy... what have you cost us? Who should pay?

I was going to post this as a Fermi problem, but decided to have fun myself.
The first question is, considering only the Thursday afternoon media frenzy, how much money in lost work did the whole balloon boy fiasco cost?

For nearly 2 hours on Thursday, October 15th 2009, "millions" of viewers across the world sat "transfixed" in front of their televisions and computer screens following the "harrowing" plight of poor little Falcon Heene. At least, according to the news.
However, it turns out that there were a significant number of people watching the TV and surfing the next on the balloon boy story who should have been working. I heard accounts by friends and family of their co-workers watching the news raptly.
So lets start:

Lets assume only the people in the US as our sample. If we assume that only 1 in 3000 Americans watching during work, and an average pay of $10/hr for a period of two hours that comes out to be 2 million dollars in direct wage costs lost to the balloon boy frenzy.
Adding 30% overhead costs in benefits and such for each employee, and that comes out to 2.6 million in direct.
Now add to the cost to other people who may be held up from completing their projects and have to sit twiddling their thumbs or working on other less pressing projects. Lets say equivalent of 10% of the number of people watching, so add another 260 thousand dollars.

So, rounding up we can estimate at least 3 million dollars were directly lost because of the balloon boy fiasco! Take ~10% of that in taxes, and the government will sure be pissed!

That is just for those two hours during the whole "harrowing" ordeal.
How can we start on the hours spent online by people reading the news for the latest information of balloon boy, reading and writing blogs over the last 5 days?

Oh my.

Who should pay for this mess?

Here are some candidates:

Richard Heene:
They guy has already paid in getting the short end of the stick genetically. Jail time for him will suffice. And blood from a turnip after all.

The Media:
Hands down this is who should pay. They were the fear mongering exploitative people who made this hoax into a much bigger deal than it needed to be. Hello, and average cable tv show costs 3-5 million an episode to produce. I doubt too many people will miss an episode wife swap. Hey, the producers of wife swap should pay as well.

Of course, that is my opinion! ;)