Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I know you've been wondering

Geekman showed me something I didn't know about on Google tonight.

If you want to convert anything to a different sort of unit (pounds to kilograms, rods to cubits, whatever), you can just type into Google: "X pounds in kilograms" or "Y rods in cubits" and it will spit back the answer.

I was curious to see what would happen if you put in inconsistent unit types: like trying to find out how many feet in a kilogram, or how many calories in a yard. (If anyone should know the answer to these sorts of questions, it would be Google.) So we tried "1 kilojoule in light years".

This made Google unhappy, and instead of an answer it just spat back a list of pages where either kilojoules or light years are mentioned.

But the "physicist cannot be stopped" switch in Geekman's brain must have been accidentally flipped, because the next thing I knew he was muttering urgently, "Hold on, hold on... kilojoules are energy, light years are distance, and energy is force times distance... yes! Newton light years!"

So in case anyone is interested:

1 kilojoule = 1.05702341 x 10-13 newton light years.


wolfa said...

They do awfully fun weird units, though. The Da Vinci Code Quest game used a lot of them."Four score scottish ells in hands?" Etc.

Jana said...

Dear Geekman. :-)

Morton T Fogg said...

Geekman is awesome.

StyleyGeek said...

I didn't try Scottish ells!

I did spend about half an hour trying to find units that would baffle Google, though. Eventually it turned out it had trouble with some of the more obscure Egyptian units of measurement, and most of the Hindu ones.

But it's amazing what it can do, though. Currency conversions too, if you specify the currency in the right way (e.g. it can understand "Australian dollars" but not "AUD dollars", although it is happy with either "UK pounds" or "British pounds").