Fuel consumption

The Saturn V rockets were the workhorses of the US Space Program [sic] in the late 60s and early 70s. And the subject of a great Inspiral Carpets song in the mid 90s. They were huge things – 111 metres in height (that’s the equivalent of a 36 storey building) and with a mass of 2.8 million kilograms (that’s the equivalent of about 470 elephants).

With great size and great escape velocity comes great fuel requirement as well:

The Saturn V rocket’s first stage carries 203,400 gallons (770,000 liters) of kerosene fuel and 318,000 gallons (1.2 million liters) of liquid oxygen needed for combustion.
At liftoff, the stage’s five F-1 rocket engines ignite and produce 7.5 million pounds of thrust.

But what does that actually mean? Sometimes, figures are difficult to interpret without context. That’s why I used the 36 storey building and the 470 elephants above.

In fact, it worked so well, I think I’m going to use the elephants again:

Yes. That’s a quick mock up of Saturn V fuel consumption expressed in elephants. And it’s a lot of elephants.

I trust everything is clear now.

The mystery of the other 48.7%

Ah, the pisspoor Daily Mail. We’ve been here before, haven’t we, folks? Ad nauseum.
But this time – it’s a classic.

In a nothing piece entitled: “Generation who refuse to grow up: No mortgage. No marriage. No children. No career plan.” by nothing columnist Marianne Power, there’s this stat:

Three million 20-to-34-year-olds now live with their parents. A third are men and 18 per cent are women.

Here it is in full screenshot glory:

Fullscreen capture 20130712 113802 AM

Which leaves me – and I would imagine any of you who have more than half a brain – wondering what on earth makes up the other 48.7% of 20-to-34-year-olds who now live with their parents?

Because I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and it’s a significant number – 1,461,000 individuals, to be exact.

But what are these individuals? Cats? Dogs? I don’t think so, because 20-34 years old is awfully old for a cat or a dog to get to. And even if we were talking cat or dog years, these are their parents we’re talking about. So, maybe some sort of larger mammal, which generally have a longer lifespan? Horses, perhaps?

Well no, because horses only really last to about 30 years on average. So we’re going to have to go bigger again.
Elephants, then. They last for ages.

Yes, as far as I can work out, the Daily Mail is reporting that there are 1,461,000 elephants between the ages of 20 and 34 years old, living with their parents in the UK.

This amazes me for two reasons. Firstly, that having lived in the UK until 2004, I never saw any of these elephants living with their parents (save maybe for the ones at London Zoo). I recognise that the article suggests that there has been a significant increase in this number, which is one reason (albeit a bit of a minor one) why it is of interest. But even so, they say that even in 1997, 2.5 million individuals (including 1,217,500 elephants) living with their parents.

That’s a lot of elephants to be hiding.

And then, secondly, what of their parents? Given that the elephant is a normal sexually reproducing mammal, it takes a total of two elephants to make a small elephant, which they then tend and nurture through until it’s 20-to-34-years-old. That’s three elephants in a house, and, with the assistance of some dodgy maths, a total of 4,383,000 elephants that I have comprehensively not noticed living in the UK.

The WWF say that there are 470,000 – 690,000 African elephants in the world, and list their status as “vulnerable”. Not any more, guys. Happy days for the elephant population as I reckon I have the Daily Mail has just found another 800% of elephant numbers, living clandestinely behind closed doors in the UK.

It’s no wonder you didn’t count them. They’re hiding.

Unless of course you’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Daily Mail have got this one wrong.