Monday, 5 January 2009

More wrong science

The Telegraph thinks America produces enough electricity to power one lightbulb for every 30 citizens. Huh?

This article (about a powerful laser) says it produces "...energy equivalent to 1,000 times the amount produced by America's national grid, or more than 10 billion times more than an ordinary household lightbulb."

A bit of simple arithmetic indicates that the national grid can power 10 million light bulbs. Which, with 300 million people, means it must be pretty dark most nights.

Actually, the laser has a power of 500 trillion watts - which means nearly 10 trillion 60-watt lightbulbs. But if you let loose on science stories journalists with no instinct for arithmetic...

The crucial question that goes unanswered by the article is, of course: will it create a black hole that could destroy the Earth? I say we should shut down all scientific research until we are sure.

As Brad DeLong might say: "Why, oh why, oh why..."

No comments: