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View Full Version : Bad metric conversion in Shuttle article

jfribrg
2007-Oct-23, 06:58 PM
I found this (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071023/sc_afp/usspaceshuttle_071023174252;_ylt=Aot14HB91dXPGheJF yrFSoqs0NUE) article about today's shuttle launch. The paragraph about the heat shield seems subtly wrong:

Wing bottoms have to withstand temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) when the shuttle makes reentry to the Earth's atmosphere at more than 20 times the speed of sound

Emphasis mine. They must have an auto-conversion program to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit that only looks at the two least significant digits. It would be very distressing to think that a reporter covering the launch would think that an ice cube melts at 1600 C. Any bets on how long before they fix the article?

HenrikOlsen
2007-Oct-23, 11:30 PM
It might have been locale aware and had comma as decimal separator,
1.600 degrees Celsius = 34.88 degrees Fahrenheit

01101001
2007-Oct-23, 11:56 PM
Probably closer to the original (no conversion supplied):
AFP: Discovery mission key to International Space Station construction (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ibm07kkC10GGgYK2-XtdMYUN_UmQ)

The bottom of the wings endure temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius when the shuttle makes reentry to the Earth's atmosphere at more than 20 times the speed of sound.

dhd40
2007-Oct-24, 09:08 AM
I found this (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071023/sc_afp/usspaceshuttle_071023174252;_ylt=Aot14HB91dXPGheJF yrFSoqs0NUE) article about today's shuttle launch. The paragraph about the heat shield seems subtly wrong:

Emphasis mine. They must have an auto-conversion program to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit that only looks at the two least significant digits. It would be very distressing to think that a reporter covering the launch would think that an ice cube melts at 1600 C. Any bets on how long before they fix the article?

Perhaps it went like this:
1,600 °C is equal to 1,6°C, which is close to 0°C, which is 32°F, which might be a new COOL-ENTRY-Technology :whistle::mad::whistle:

Jim
2007-Oct-24, 01:05 PM
Maybe it's simpler - and stranger - than that.

To convert C to F, the formula is:
F = ((C*9)/5) + 32

What if they somehow skipped or overlooked that first part? Then any temp in C is 32F.

ETA: They haven't caught their mistake yet.

NEOWatcher
2007-Oct-24, 04:36 PM
CNN has the solution (http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/10/24/space.shuttle.ap/index.html)... Just say degrees without units, and let people think what they want.

It's unknown whether cracks could worsen and cause the coating to chip off and make the area more vulnerable to the 3,000-degree heat of re-entry.

Edit: I see the OP is the "launch" article, and now everyone, including Yahoo, has the "check for damage" article the same as my reference.

dhd40
2007-Oct-24, 07:28 PM
Maybe it's simpler - and stranger - than that.

To convert C to F, the formula is:
F = ((C*9)/5) + 32

What if they somehow skipped or overlooked that first part? Then any temp in C is 32F.

ETA: They haven't caught their mistake yet.

Great! That´s the solution for the climate change problem

tracer
2007-Oct-25, 11:34 PM
Wing bottoms have to withstand temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) when the shuttle makes reentry to the Earth's atmosphere at more than 20 times the speed of sound

This part, about the shuttle's re-entry speed, is clearly wrong, too.

We all know that Columbia was travelling at 18 times the speed of light when it broke apart.

<ducking and running>

tracer
2007-Oct-26, 12:12 AM
And I would just like to say, at this juncture, that this thread has inspired me to create a Wikipedia page on the journalistic use of the Football field as a unit of length.

2007-Oct-26, 12:20 AM
And I would just like to say, at this juncture, that this thread has inspired me to create a Wikipedia page on the journalistic use of the Football field as a unit of length.
Also add the size of Texas and swimming pools.

Chuck
2007-Oct-27, 10:37 PM
I also enjoy the false precision that people add when doing conversions. I read an article once that said some aircraft was "flying at an altitude of greater than 16,404 feet." If they know the altitude to the nearest foot then why say "greater than"? But then I converted to meters which comes to 4,999.9392 so it's pretty obvious that someone translated from an article that said "greater than 5,000 meters" and added the misleading precision during conversion.

Also, automatic temperature conversion software introduces considerable error when handling changes in temperature. An article might say "the temperature was 25°C (77°F) at dawn and increased by 10°C (50°F) by noon." Does that mean that people using Fahrenheit would have to switch to using Celsius in a hurry to keep from being fried?

2007-Oct-28, 04:34 AM
Also add the size of Texas and swimming pools.
Rhode Island is also a common metric for comparing sizes of things that are big, but not THAT big...

Delvo
2007-Oct-28, 04:49 AM
Every time I see the thing about football fields, I wonder at first whether or not that includes the end zones, but then realize it probably doesn't because most people don't know what that distance would be and it isn't a nice neat one like "100" (the number of yards from goal line to goal line)... but then that means the unit they really have in mind isn't even really a "football field"; it's "the in-bounds part of a football field"... but maybe they don't put it that way because they can't figure out a good way to pluralize it...

NEOWatcher
2007-Oct-29, 02:05 PM
Every time I see the thing about football fields...
Every reference I heard works with the 100 yard idea. But; I also think that the football field is intentially used to give a perception of a bigger size.

I thought we had a thread of units of measure for perception, but I can't find it.
(the bus, the texas, the football field, the human hair, etc.)

MG1962A
2007-Oct-29, 02:51 PM
Also add the size of Texas and swimming pools.

Then divide by London buses to convert to metric :sick: