View previous topic | View next topic

Poets and Philosophers

Page 1 of 1

1276588.  Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:47 pm Reply with quote

The Greek poet, Hesiod, claimed in his famous first poetic work “Theogony” that the distance between heaven and the earth was the distance it would take an anvil falling for 9 days and 9 nights before it struck earth.

As such, assuming
1) An ancient Greek poet would not consider the fact that gravity weakens the further one is from Earth and
2) A mid-sized anvil at 75 kg:

If we consider the lack of atmosphere in outer Space

The distance would be 2,964,411,648 km, or 3.3 times the optical diameter of Betelgeuse. The anvil would be travelling at around 1/40th the speed of light if we assume it starting from zero and gaining speed as it falls.

The force of such an anvil hitting the earth would be 2.1808*10^15 joules, or the equivalent of 521,200 tons of TNT, or just under 35 Hiroshima bombings.

Fortunately, at that distance , the anvil would be too far from earth to be likely to be effected by its gravity and not end up in orbit around something else.

(SIDE NOTE: there are so many different variables for this and you can come up with lots of different numbers. Are we assuming constant atmosphere or vacuum of space? Acceleration or constant speed? What kind of Greek Anvil did Hesiod use? Would Zeus have struck it out of the sky? But this is our best calculation.)

Finally: We’ve discussed the destructive impact in Joules, tons of TNT and Hiroshima bombings. But this is for QI fans, and that all seemed too boring, so I decided to also calculate it in flaming Falkland Penguins. It would be 42,155,873,158 penguins

Last edited by Amalia on Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total

1276612.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:52 am Reply with quote

Nice work :-)

1276624.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:37 am Reply with quote

Amalia wrote:
The Greek poet, Hesiod, claimed in his famous first poetic work “Theogony” that the distance between heaven and the earth was the distance it would take an anvil falling for 9 days and 9 nights before it struck earth.

I love that! Don't you just wish you could see his "working"?

I have visions of some old bloke in a robe ordering slaves to hurl anvils off assorted tall bits of Greece and timing their fall, then filling yards of parchment scroll with abstruse calculations before arrivng at his answer.

Or just writing down any old bolleaux, 'cos he was a philosopher and nobody argued with him.................

1276648.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:22 pm Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
I love that! Don't you just wish you could see his "working"?

He did some experiments and so he knew that it was 42,155,873,158 flaming penguins, and then he worked back from there to units more readily understood by his audience. Obviously.

The Qur'an has it that Heaven is five hundred years' marching distance away, while some Christian denominations believe that it's actually only eighteen inches but in a non-visible dimension.

A short-lived sect called the Jezreelites started work on building a tower which would reach all the way to Heaven. They only got to about thirty feet before the money ran out, and apparently they weren't quite at Heaven yet. Still in, well, Gillingham in fact.

Alexander Howard
1276650.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:47 pm Reply with quote

I got as far as a = G m /r˛

- (where m is the mass of the Earth and r the distance from the centre of the Earth) but then thought I would leave it to someone else to work out the differentials to calculate the time and distances.

(Anvils still, dropping from space ignoring atmospheric resistance, shockwave or the pull of other planetary bodies, or what an anvil would be doing in space anyway - or the initial velocity given when Hephaestus hurled it when he found out what Aphrodite had been up to.)

1276656.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:03 pm Reply with quote

The distance from apogee to Earth for a Tesla car, perhaps?

1276699.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:06 pm Reply with quote

I'm now wondering what proportion of the world has only escaped ruin due to it being quite hard to light a penguin.

1276715.  Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:43 pm Reply with quote

You've clearly been buying the cheap barbecue lighting fluid again, haven't you? Get the good stuff and they go up like a Roman Candle!

Alexander Howard
1276729.  Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:43 am Reply with quote

Flaming Falkland penguins? That could be any of four different species, whose calorific content varies. Is the scale calibrated to King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic or Macaroni penguins?

The main experience of lighting penguins would be Frank Wild's team on Elephant Island, who would have worked with chinstraps and gentoos, but he did not record precise heat measurements, and preferred to used the fat for frying: seals provided the heat.

The penguins which breed off the English Coast would provide far more heat per bird than a Gentoo, if you can get at them.

1276893.  Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:46 am Reply with quote

Magellanic Penguins :)

Alexander Howard
1277330.  Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:58 am Reply with quote

Amalia wrote:
Magellanic Penguins :)

I asked the RSPB how much fat in calorific terms there is in a variety of penguins, and how much heat can be generated by burning each one, but I did not get a polite answer. Honestly, I never thought I would hear language like that from a respectable charity.


Page 1 of 1

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group