Friday, November 12, 2010

Not All Ounces Are Created Equal

So, today, I was telecommuting. I was working on a "how to use NetApp Fibrechannel Storage With RedHat Multipathing" document. As I usually do when telecommuting, I had the TV on to make background noise. At one point, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire came on.

As far as gameshows go, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is not the most horrible of the bunch. Certainly, it's far better than the ferret-level intelligence required for Wheel of Fortune and less trailer parkish than Let's Make a Deal. Still, the show's a dumbed-down version of the same show that came from England.

Even dumbed-down, there's certain standards that one really should maintain. I mean, if you're going to ask a question - I don't care how hard or easy it is - you should expect a correct answer. More, the answer that you're asking for should be correct.

Today, I had the pain of seeing really poor writing and fact-checking at play. The question asked was something along the lines of, "If a man weighs 150lbs and gold's market price is $1000 an ounce, how much would the man be worth if he were composed entirely of gold?" The answer they wanted (and got) from the contestant was $2.4Mn. Now, that answer would be correct, if gold were measured in the same units that body weight is measured in. However, that is simply not the case. Gold is measured in troy ounces (ozt.). Body weight is measured in avoirdupois ounces (oz.). Ok, typically body weight (in the US) is measured in "pounds" but, that's neither here nor there - it's the underlying conversions that are material to this question.

A quick search shows that, one pound of body weight equates to 16 avoirdupois ounces (or 16oz). Whereas, one pound of body weight equates to roughly 14.583 troy ounces (or, 14.583ozt). That means that the 150lb man would be 2400oz. and 2187.5ozt. (or thereabouts). As previously established, gold is measured in ozt, not oz. Therefore, the calculation should have been $1000/ozt * 2187.5ozt to get a value of $2.187Mn, not the $2.4Mn that was offered as an answer option.

Grr... Sloppy (and, yes, I didn't worry about the significance of my numbers when I placed decimals and did my rounding - sue me).

No comments:

Post a Comment