SK

Common Yardsticks

Date written Jun 8, 2020
Date updated Last updated: Jul 15, 2020
Filed under Handbook in ref

Contents

Historically, science has made great strides because someone cared to ask, how much? This is my concerted effort towards numerical literacy in the modern world. Assigning tangible quantities is immensely effective towards understanding the metaphorical "gravity of the situation".

All values are approximate and meant to facilitate back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Length

  • Neutrophil (White Blood Cells) - 12-15 microns
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza - 150m high
  • Eiffel Tower - 300m high
  • Burj Khalifa - 830m
  • Golden Gate Park - 3 mi
  • ISS Orbital Height - 250 mi / 420 km

Astronomical

  • Farthest object captured by the Hubble Telescope GN-z11 - 13.4 billion light years

Area

  • Golden Gate Park - 1000 acres / 400 ha

Mass

  • Large Shipping Container - 26 t / 30 US t

Time

  • ISS Revolution - 90 min

Historical

  • Oldest stone tools - 2.6 million years ago e.g. the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania
  • Fire-treating stones - 164000 years ago
  • Oldest lime products - 9600 BCE, Gobekli Tepe
  • Potter’s wheel - 5500 BCE
  • Cotton - 6000 BCE
  • Wool - 6000 BCE, clothes 4000 BCE
  • Glassmaking - 5000 BCE
  • Iron - 1200 BCE, popular usage
  • Printing Press - 1440
  • Founding of Manila - 1571, marks substantial, direct and continuous trade between Asia and Americas
  • Great Fire of London - 1666, pretty much forced the rebuilding that led to modern London
  • Modernization of Paris - 1852-70, directed by Eugene Haussmann
  • World's first encyclopedia - 1751-1777, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond D'Alembert
  • First modern record of a "birthday" - 1772
  • First electric elevator - 1889, Otis
  • Color Presses - 1890s
  • First mass car ownership - 1908, Ford Model-T

Healthcare

  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART) - 1996

Percentages

  • Percentage of total physical money in the world - < 10% (7% as of 2020)

Temperature

  • Melting point of (virgin) Cocunut oil - 24 °C

Speed

  • Wildfire fronts - 30 km/h (short bursts, otherwise 10% windspeed rule)