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apr 29, 2012; updated sep 12, 2013

Filler of the Day

In the old days, before the Internet, newspaper publishers sometimes found it necessary to add small news items to fill up empty blank spaces on the page. Creating interesting fillers has become a lost art. Here are some new ones.

Solid gold iPhone 5
If the iPhone 5s were solid gold, it would weigh 2.35 pounds. This is about the same as the the first cell phone, the Motorola DynaTac 8000x, which weighed 2 pounds. An earlier 1973 model of the 8000x weighed 2.5 pounds and was 23.3 times bigger (in terms of volume) than the iPhone. If it were made of solid gold, it would have weighed 54.8 pounds.

At US$1327 per troy ounce, a solid gold iPhone would be worth $45,467. A golden 8000x would be worth $1,059,381 at today's rates, but only $77,813 at 1973's rates. Thus, in one sense, the original cell phone was only 1.71 times as expensive as today's iPhone.

Update, 10/08/2013 HTC just stole my idea.

Jesus vs. Bear Grylls
I was watching The Bible last week, where Jesus was out in the desert fasting for forty days, and Satan appears in the form of a snake. The snake is obviously just symbolic, but I couldn't help thinking: What would Bear Grylls do in this situation? I think we all know what would have happened to that snake if Jesus had had better survival training. It might have changed our culture in strange ways. Certainly, the Bible would be quite different:

Matt 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, “... If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be ... hey, what are you doing!?”

Matt 4:4 And Jesus replied, saying, Verily, it is written in the survival manual, that you are packed with vitamin C!

Mar 31, 2013

How big would a silver coin be to be worth one dollar?
Silver is currently $1.018 per gram. A one-dollar silver coin worth its weight, if it was one centimeter in diameter, would be 1.2 millimeters thick.

A gold coin one centimeter in diameter worth one dollar would be 0.0115 millimeters thick, at current prices (US$ 1607 per ounce). This is about the same as the wavelength of mid-infrared light, or 1/10 the diameter of an average human hair, which is about 0.1 millimeter thick.

Gold foil is available in thicknesses down to 0.2μm, which is the same as the wavelength of ultraviolet light. A dollar coin made from this thickness of gold leaf would be 2.98 inches in diameter.

How much does a dollar bill weigh?
A dollar bill weighs slightly less than one gram (between 0.94 and 0.96 grams, depending on the amount of dirt on it). This means a hundred dollar bill, which is the largest denomination currently printed, is worth $2800 an ounce, about 1.75 times that of gold, which is currently valued at $1607 an ounce. So a hundred dollar bill is the only form of US currency that is worth its weight in gold.

The price of silver is currently US$28.51 per ounce or $1.018 per gram. Thus, even though our dollar bills no longer say "Silver Certificate," a one-dollar bill is almost worth its weight in silver.

How much does a grain of salt weigh?
One grain of Morton Iodized salt from the grocery store weighs about 106 micrograms. This means that there are 264,151 grains of salt in an ounce. Each grain of salt contains 1.1×1018 molecules of sodium chloride. This is roughly 11 million times more than the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Worst headline ever
The Daily Mail, not particularly noted for its proofreading skills, published the following headline: "Alaskan Forester Mauled to Death by Brown Bear on his Way to Collect Groceries for his Colleagues." However, it is generally believed that the worst headline ever was from an unknown newspaper that printed a story under the heading "One Dead At Funeral."

Alcohol in Coke
French researchers have discovered that Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, and many other brands of soft drink contain ethyl alcohol at concentrations of 10 milligrams per liter. What many people don't realize is that there are almost always trace amounts of endogenous ethanol in the blood of healthy, non-drinking persons. The concentrations range from 0 to 0.08 mg/dl. This is usually attributed to gastrointestinal yeast. Patients with severe yeast infections have been found with blood alcohol levels above 80 mg/dl. This is near the limit of 0.1% level (or 100 mg/dl) for a DUI. To get drunk on Diet Coke, you would need the equivalent of 68 grams of alcohol, or 6,800 liters (1,796 gallons) of cola, which would weigh about 7.48 tons.

It has been claimed that diet soft drinks containing aspartame also contain 55 milligrams of methyl alcohol per liter. Methanol is also a major component of cigarette smoke. Since ethanol is a treatment for methanol poisoning, drinking a few tons of regular Coke per day could help, in a small way, to protect you against cigarette smoking.

Yoda Quotes
Yoda's mother: "Up your room, clean you must."
Yoda's H/P calculator: "Reverse Polish notation, I English in using am."

Pinkie Pie
Scientists have estimated that there are approximately 2,550,014 pictures of Pinkie Pie on the Internet.

Fairy dust
Fairy dust, also known as pixie dust, is made by grinding fairies into a fine powder, and then extracting the organic components, leaving only the magical dust-like material. Contrary to popular belief, however, baby powder sold in the West is not made from babies, but from a mineral known as talc, which is the softest known mineral. As for other parts of the globe—better check the label.

Apr 29, 2012
The phrase that created the Universe:
"Hey, watch this!"
In the beginning, God said, "Hey, watch this!" By coincidence, this phrase is also known to have been the last words by the last living human, spoken just before the Universe was destroyed.