# Category Archives: Culture

## How many gallons of human blood are there?

For this we need to know how many people there are and the average amount of blood in each one. Unfortunately, I will be assuming that all humans are adult sized with an adult amount of blood, which I’m fairly sure is not the case, so the estimated value will be higher than the actual value by a fairly substantial amount.
Now then. As of January 3rd, 2014, the date which this was written, the Worldometers world population clock [1] put the total world population at about 7.204 billion people.
As for blood, hypertextbook [2] cites several scientific studies which have found that the amount of blood in the average adult is right around 5 liters (or about 5 quarts). This means that the average person has about 1.25 gallons of blood.
By multiplying the two results we find that the total amount of human blood is right around 9 billion gallons.
Using data from a 2010 Pew poll of world religions [3] we find that there are 2.8 billion gallons of Christian blood, 2.1 billion gallons of Muslim blood, 1.4 gallons of Hindu blood and only 18 million gallons of Jewish blood. (These numbers don’t add up to the total because of other religions and the 1.5 gallons of unaffiliated blood)

Filed under Biology, Mathematics, Religion

## Ghoti

Ghoti can either be silent or pronounced like “fish” or “goatee”, ghoti is an amalgam of parts of other English words, where gh from enough, o from women (plural) and ti from nation are combined to spell the word fish. Ghoti is one example of weirdness in English pronunciation which has been used to promote spelling reform in the English language. Silent ghoti uses gh from though, o from people, t from ballet, and i from business.

Filed under Culture, Language

## Leap Years, Days and Seconds

2012 was a leap year, 2013 wasn’t, 2016 will be, 2014 won’t be, 2000 was and 1900 was not. Years are about 365 days long, but not exactly (measuring years is kind of hard to do and there are different ways of doing it, but a sidereal year is about 365.256363004 days long, and a tropical year is about 365.24219 days long, the difference is in the way the two are measured), and this difference between clean lengths of time like 365 days and the awkward 365.24219 days is enough to throw seasons off so that summer occurs in December. The Gregorian calendar uses a trick to adjust for this, adding a day to February. Normally, a year in the Gregorian calendar has 365 days, except for every fourth year (4, 8, 12, 16, …2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) which have 366 days. However, every 100th year (100, 200, 300, …2100, 2200, 2300) will not have a leap day, and thus have 365 days. Finally, every 400th year (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400) will have a leap day, and be 366 days long. This brings the average Gregorian calendar year to 365.2425 days long, not terribly different from the 365.24219 day long tropical year. Finally, leap seconds. The length of a day varies slightly, caused by gravitational forces on the Earth by the moon, sun, and other planets and usually only changes by a second, over the course of time. To keep the average length of a day as close to 86400 seconds as possible. Like leap years, leap seconds keep the rigid 86400 second day from drifting so 12-noon was sunset.

Filed under Culture, Mathematics, Science

## The Klingon Language

The Klingon are a fictional extraterrestrial race from the American TV Franchise Star Trek, and have been given their own formal language (rather than speaking nonsense on screen) by linguist Marc Okrand. Although the Klingon language has its own writing system, words are commonly written in the Latin alphabet (which is used extensively by most Germanic and Romance languages including English and French). In Latin script different sounds are represented by varying capitalization (q has a different pronunciation from Q), so beginnings of sentences are, unlike English, not capitalized. A 2010 book by Arika Okrent suggests that there are about 20-30 fluent Klingon speakers, possibly since most of its known, or rather, invented, vocabulary refers to objects common in the Star Trek universe. There have been various works that have been translated into Klingon, including Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Epic of Gilgamesh, a version of A Christmas Carol and the Tao Te Ching. Finally there’s ‘u’, an opera performed in the “Klingon style”, first performed in September of 2010 in the Hague.

Filed under Culture, Film and Television, Language

## As Promised: Time Zones

Time zones are a social construct. They don’t exist in any real sense, but are convenient for coordinating activities in regions where noon occurs at about the same time (that is, the sun is highest in the sky at about the same time). Standardized time zones occur in multiples of hours (with the occasional 30 or 45 minute difference) from Greenwich Mean Time also known by its official name, Coordinated Universal Time (aka UTC). Time zones are usually notated as UTC+d where d is the time difference between the time zone and UTC. For instance, UTC+0:00 contains Liberia, Ghana, Greenland, Portugal, Iceland, Ireland and the UK, UTC+3:30 contains Iran, UTC+4:30 contains Afghanistan, UTC+8:45 contains part of Western Australia, and UTC+12:00 contains New Zealand. UTC+D means that a location is D hours ahead of UTC, while UTC-D means that the location is D hours behind UTC. For instance, Brazil, Argentina and Suriname are in UTC-3:00, United States Eastern Time is UTC-5:00, United States Pacific Time is UTC-8:00 and the outlying Baker Island is in UTC-12:00.

Filed under Culture, Economics

## Double Post Part 2: Places and Things With Long Names

So there are places with long names, there are people with long names and there are things with long names. Let’s start with some fun ones. The official name of the Thai city of Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) is actually a shortened version of its full ceremonial name: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The full name of the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland. The Maori name of a New Zealand hill is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a town in Wales, Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg is a lake in Massachusetts and the full name of the protein titin is just short of 190,000 letters long.

Filed under Culture, Language

## Double Post Part 1: From the Archives: Nukes (July 22)

Okay, it’s past midnight where I am, so I’ll post this now and have something else for you all later today.
Since the first nuclear test in 1945 at the White Sands Missile Range, then White Sands Proving Ground, there have been around 2000-2100 nuclear detonations in either the form tests or use as a weapon. Of these about 1000 are American, 700 are Soviet/Russian, 200 are French, 45 are British, 45 are Chinese, 6 are Indian, 6 are Pakistani, and two are North Korean. Unconfirmed tests include Iranian, German and Japanese devices. The three most prolific testing years were, in order of most tests to least, 1961, 1958 and 1968. About 140 nuclear tests occurred in 1961, with about 100 of those being American. The longest period of time between two nuclear tests was a span of about 100 months from June 1998 to October 2006. Since 1998, the only nation to perform confirmed nuclear tests has been North Korea. The “Doomsday Clock” is a subjective measure of the danger of nuclear catastrophe based on current events. Initially set at 11:53, the closest the Doomsday Clock has gotten to midnight (global nuclear disaster) was 11:53 in 1953. The farthest the Doomsday Clock has been from midnight was in 1991 when the clock was set to 11:43. The Doomsday Clock is currently set to 11:55

Filed under Culture, History, Politics

## From the Archives: Lacuna (Matata) (August 24)

A lacuna is the untranslatability of a word from a given language to another, or the accidental absence of a word that is allowed by that languages grammatical rules. In the case of accidental absence, you can turn some verbs in English (recite, arrive, etc.) into nouns by dropping the “e” and adding “al” (recital, arrival). However, describe does not have it’s noun form (describal). Similarly, in English, there is no gender neutral form of “uncle” or “aunt”, and there are no male or female forms of “cousin”. In the case of untranslatability a concept that has a word in one language might not have a word in another. For example, English has no word for someone who is not a virgin (specifically no noun), Romanian has no word for shallow (as in shallow water) and Welsh has no word for 11 (really it’s something like tenty one, but that’s two words so it doesn’t count). Untranslatability is overcome by borrowing words from other languages, creating new words, or translating into a phrase in order to convey that missing concept.

Filed under Culture, From the Archives, Language

## Prophets of Islam and the Muslim Jesus

Disclaimer: This post is in no way intended to frame any religion in a negative light, and the primary source for this post is this Wikipedia article. I understand if the views presented as common in this post do not square with your personal views, they are meant as generalizations and I in no way claim to be an expert in any religious study.

In this post, the word “prophet” is used to refer to any person who, in a given religious tradition, has held the audience of any of said religion’s gods. In this case, some of the prophets of Islam include (names in Anglicized form) Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus, again, I’m generalizing here, is regarded as a prophet and leader of the Jewish people in Islamic tradition, born of the virgin Mary and who ascended into heaven rather than being crucified. Both Jesus and Muhammad are descendants of Abraham, with Muhammad being the descendant of Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar, while Jesus is the descendant of Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah. Of course, one major difference between Islamic and Christian views of Jesus is that (many) Christians regard Jesus to be the literal son of God or God incarnate who died for the sins of humanity, while (many) Muslims reject such claims.