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gerontius grumpus
136152.  Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:57 pm Reply with quote

Nicholls wrote:
I'm not sure if someone has mentioned this, but occasionally the writers quote numbers as say 1 billion (they mean 1,000,000,000). Officially in Britain 1 billion is 1,000,000,000,000, quite literally bi-llion. It is only in America that they have the former definition of billion (1,000,000,000) although I may be wrong about this as the English language seems to be continually becoming Americanised.


I'm not sure but I think the American billion has now been assimilated into general usage in Britain now.

 
Flash
136171.  Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:58 pm Reply with quote

Absolutely. As you would know if you had been paying attention to your Saga Magazine Christmas QI quiz:
Quote:

Nowadays a billion is a thousand million in both the UK and the USA. It used to be the case that the USA used the "short scale" in which a billion is a thousand million whereas the UK used (mostly) the "long scale" in which it's a million million. This was officially changed in 1974, from which date UK government statistics were issued in short scale. Needless to say, most of Europe has gone the other way; Italy and France went so far as to change to the short scale for a while but then change back.

 
Nicholls
136504.  Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:51 pm Reply with quote

Apologies, I took that meaning from a dictionary that was published quite a while ago (upwards of 30 years) so I thought that they might have changed it.

 
joek
222122.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:57 am Reply with quote

In the qi book, the article on the word hello is wrong. it claimsa that it was first used in 1876, however, it was used in 1826 by william hone in the Every-day Book: Or Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, Sports, Pastime, Ceremonies on page 1370. source- wiki.

 
Flash
222128.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 10:14 am Reply with quote

I reckon we'll need to look behind the wiki to comment on that one, joek. Can you direct us to the wiki page you have in mind or, better still, to the source cited by the wiki article? And are you sure that the word is used as a greeting rather than as an exclamation in the book you mention?

 
soup
222136.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:33 am Reply with quote

Flash, would he be talking about this?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello

 
MinervaMoon
222141.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:55 am Reply with quote

The usage in 1826 by William Hone is "hollo", as a shout of mirth, like "huzzah!" I've only scanned the page, but it looks like a chant for Guy Fawkes day.

See here for the text of that page, which says:

Quote:
Then hollo boys! hollo boys! shout and huzz
Hollo boys! hollo boys! keep up the day,
Hollo boys! hollo boys! let the bells ring,
Down with the pope, and God save the king
Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!

 
joek
222163.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:20 pm Reply with quote

soup wrote:
Flash, would he be talking about this?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello

that is the one. what do you think?

 
Jenny
222207.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:41 pm Reply with quote

'Hollo boys' sounds like 'holler' more than 'hello' to me.

 
Flash
222211.  Sat Oct 20, 2007 8:17 pm Reply with quote

Got it. For my money those early versions look like exclamations rather than greetings, which leaves our argument intact. I could be wrong, though.

 
Jenny
222997.  Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:33 pm Reply with quote

'Holler boys' would be an instruction/exclamation, certainly. And I'm sure I've seen hollo as a spelling of that in 19th century books.

 
Simma
528426.  Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:13 am Reply with quote

sonny sixshooter wrote:


And then my favourite... On page 68 it says: "... the slowest recorded speed of light.... was just over 60 kph..: slower than a bicycle."

Now, I don't know what kind of bicycles you have in Britain... but I want one!


My first post here ^^

Many Tour de France sprints exceed 65 km/h every year, and Mark Cavendish has claimed to be nearer 70km/h (He is currently highly regarded as the fastest tour sprinter over the last 100 metre's or so.)

So maybe it simple case of they were too lazy to put a few extra words on the end of the sentence? "slower than a bicycle has achieved." ^^

 
Jenny
528616.  Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:30 am Reply with quote

Welcome Simma and thanks for the interesting post :-)

 
clements
859440.  Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:01 am Reply with quote

Erm... can I revive a two-year old thread to complain about what I believe to be an error in a book I was given for free? Well, why not.

In the article "How Long is a Day", you write:

"Astonishingly, it can be as much as fifty whole seconds longer or shorter. This is because the speed of the earths rotation is continually changing *as the result of friction caused by tides, weather patterns, and geological events*." (emphasis mine).

Based on the reading I've been able to get my hands on (principally wikipedia's "equation of time" article and earlier amateur astronomy reading), it's true that the length of the mean solar day differs from that of the actual solar day by as much as 29.9 seconds, and the difference between the longest and shortest day is as much as 50 seconds. However, this is due to the earth's orbital path, not to the aforementioned factors.

You go on to point out (entirely correctly) that due to factors such as
friction and geology, that the length of the year must periodically be
adjusted by a leap second. If the difference in the length of days within
a year was due to "noisy" events such as weather and geology, though,
the annual adjustment would have to be on the order of "leap hours",
rather than the very occasional "leap second" that actually occurs.

Cheers!

John Clements

 
Jenny
859578.  Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:58 am Reply with quote

Thanks John Clements and welcome to the forum :-)

We like people who correct us, so stick around. If any of the elves see this, they might post the research that led them to the conclusion you describe, or it might make it into the fabled retractions special.

 

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