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Standardized Elephant

  1. Sep 3, 2013 #1
    Recently, reading an article about graphene, it was disclosed that a sheet of graphene the thickness of a piece of plastic wrap could support the weight of an elephant balanced on a pencil. Beyond the fact that I highly doubt anyone got an elephant (although good at balancing tricks I have seen in circuses) to balance himself on a pencil long enough to do a scientific test, I see other problems arising here.

    The most obvious being what size of an elephant?? Was this a baby elephant? A pygmy elephant or was it an African bull elephant? After all, if elephants are going to become a standard of weight, there has to be some sort of a standard, right? They did it with horses (horsepower) and candles (candlepower), I mean, even with candles there is a great variability. A lot of difference between a votive light to warm food with and an emergency candle.

    And what about the flea? I saw once that a flea uses 1 calorie (small c), to hop. What particular species of flea was this? How far did he hop? And was he an olympic hopper or just a standard hopper? And where did he hop? At the north or south pole or at the equator?? With the sensitivity of modern equipment, this minute difference is actually quite huge!

    And what about horsepower? Has anyone actually verified this? I mean, how do we really know that the horse used to set what a horsepower is, actually DID lift 33,000 pounds 1 foot in a minute?? If we had a standardized horse (probably through cloning exact copies of him), we might be able to re-test and verify it. What if there was a small error there somewhere and in reality the horsepower is only 32,250 pounds lifted 1 foot in 1 minute??

    My suggestion is to create a global scientific center and multi-national comittee to oversee and set these standards. We can call it the Bureau of Animal Weights and Measures. Anyone have some extra room in their back yard to host a zoo?

    What are we going to do when the chinese insist on using the Panda as the power standard instead of a horse. Or India demands power is measured in Bengal Tigers!! I don't know a lot of scientists who want to mess with a man eating tiger to test out how strong he is or how much weight he can lift in a minute!!

    Well just a bit of humor ... sort-of ... ;)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2013 #2

    Evo

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    That's cute.
     
  4. Sep 3, 2013 #3

    russ_watters

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  5. Sep 3, 2013 #4
  6. Sep 3, 2013 #5
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMByI4s-D-Y
    They say that is the world's roundest object. They lie. It is actually the world's roundest miniature spherical cow.
     
  7. Sep 3, 2013 #6

    lisab

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    ...of uniform density.
     
  8. Sep 3, 2013 #7
    Sorry to get serious here, but that writer doesn't understand the scale. It is not two scales, it's one, an eccentric one, but just one. You can't have an HHBBB pencil. No such thing exists or ever existed. While H stands for "hard" and B for "Black", the blacker range of pencils are blacker by virtue of being softer. An HHBBB pencil would be paradoxically both hard and soft, both light and dark.

    (The pencil graded "HB" is not paradoxical because it used to be the medium pencil between the H's and B's, but someone decided there was too much gap between HB and H and added the F pencil. The standard #2 office pencil is usually an HB equivalent.)

    The Wiki has it right:

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

    scroll down to "Grading and classification."
     
  9. Sep 3, 2013 #8

    AlephZero

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    I think the standard should be the "hypothetical elephant", a species which only lives in math and physics exam papers, and (as every student knows) has negligible mass.

    Unlike the spherical cow, its shape seems to be indeterminate.
     
  10. Sep 3, 2013 #9

    Cthugha

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    The obvious approach would be to have an IPE (international prototype elephant) and several copies of it which are examined from time to time to see whether the elephant is still the same or whether it is changing over time. Feeding it might be a problem. But there is standard water already. Maybe there is standard food, too.
     
  11. Sep 4, 2013 #10
    I think there will have to be a new breed of elephant created. Obviously not many labs are suited to a full size elephant, or even a pygmy elephant in their lab to calibrate their equipment and test with. A high density elephant is needed. And since a lot of testing involves nano-scale stuff, maybe a nano-elephant too?
     
  12. Sep 4, 2013 #11
    The horsepower history is mostly known.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsepower#History_of_the_unit

    So perhaps standard elephants should be the same .. a little heavier than a real elephant :smile:
     
  13. Sep 4, 2013 #12

    SteamKing

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    What is the weight of an elephant balanced on a pencil? Is that weight different than if the elephant were balanced on a brick? On a telephone pole?

    Some of the writing metaphors one encounters probably shouldn't be examined too closely.
     
  14. Sep 4, 2013 #13

    SteamKing

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  15. Sep 4, 2013 #14
    I think the article was talking about the ability to endure pressure exerted by the weight of an elephant on a pencil tip and not the variance of weight of the elephant standing on different objects.
    As to whether an elephant weighs more on certain objects- it would be determined by the height of objects- So assuming all objects to be at the same distance from the center of Earth- Elephant on telephone pole would be lightest, elephant on pencil would be second and elephant on brick (assuming the brick to be on its side, rather than standing vertically) would be heaviest....

    But of course some of the writing metaphors one encounters probably shouldn't be examined too closely...:tongue2:
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  16. Sep 4, 2013 #15

    AlephZero

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    Yes, obviously. The three things are of different lengths, and the weight of the elephant depends on its distance from the center of mass of the earth.

    Also, the elephant might be more scared when on top of the telephone pole, and if it is hyperventilating its volume will be larger and there will be more buoyancy from the air, reducing its weight.
     
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