Visualizing huge numbers can be very difficult. People regularly talk about millions of miles, billions of bytes, or trillions of dollars, yet it's still hard to grasp just how much a "billion" really is. The MegaPenny Project aims to help by taking one small everyday item, the U.S. penny, and building on that to answer the question: "What would a billion (or a trillion) pennies look like?"
All the following pages have tables at the bottom, listing things such as the value of the pennies, size of the pile, weight, and area (if laid flat). All weights and measurements are U.S. standards, not metric.
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
"Perhaps the truth is less interesting than the facts?" asked Amy Weiss, the RIAA's Senior Vice President of Communications recently in this email to The Register.
It's a question which has baffled many of our readers, and us too. Perhaps it's a kind of Zen koan, which needs to be repeated many times before making sense. If so, we can't report any success.
But the RIAA seems to be having a few problems with the facts itself.
Yesterday it issued a press release announcing a piracy bust in New York which unearthed 421 CD-R burners.
Only there weren't 421 burners, but "the equivalent of 421 burners."
In fact, there were just 156. How did the RIAA account for this discrepancy?
"There were only 156 actual burners, but some run at very high speeds: some as high as 40x. This is well above the average speed," was the official line yesterday.
The present invention has discovered the apparent existence of a new dimension capable of acting as a medium for RE signals. Initial benefits of penetrating this new dimension include sending RF signals faster than the speed of light, extending the effective distance of RF transmitters at the same power radiated, penetrating known RF shielding devices, and accelerating plant growth exposed to the by-product energy of the RF transmissions.
A CD with 1000 free hours of AOL!
Anyway, it was an amazing show. If you haven't heard of ISW before, they have a few punk bands, alternating with Lucha Libre-style wrestling. They set up a full sized wrestling ring in the middle of the dance floor, right in front of the stage. It's absolutely hilarious! A long-standing custom is that the audience members bring tortillas with them, and spend the whole evening pelting the wrestlers, performers, and each other with them. It is, as you can imagine, a mess. We swaddled everything we could with clear plastic, and even took down some of the lights. The club had a very interesting scent for the next few days. But it was so worth it.
Notable incidents that either were not immortalized in the photo archive, or might be overlooked:
- One of the wrestlers (I think Frankie "Destruction" D, but I'm not totally sure) actually jumping off the balcony and into the ring. Kids, don't even think of trying this at home.
- The Sheik of Physique spraying whipped cream on his voluminous chest and belly, then scooping fistfuls into his mouth;
- The Snackmaster's assistants, The Snackettes, drinking from bottles of gravy, and spraying it over the body of The Sheik's defeated opponent Rasputin;
- Mextacy, "The Mexican Raver", trying to give his opponent a big hug instead of fighting;
- 69 Degrees, the wrestling Scientologist boy-band tag-team, getting the crowd going with "when I say L. Ron! You say Hubbard!" "L. Ron!" "Hubbard!" "L. Ron!" "Hubbard!"
- The Three Wise Men (played by furries of some kind) sucker-punching Jesus Cross;
- People trying to mosh on top of the incredibly slippy tortilla debris covering the entire floor.
A good time was had by all.
We've been having some weird webcast trouble lately; the audio is screwing up in a confusing way. Every now and then, the volume will way, way down (to like 10% of normal) then ramp back up to normal over the course of about four seconds. Then it'll do it again a while later: maybe 30 seconds later, maybe ten minutes later.
The audio signal for the webcast comes from (basically) a line split off just before the amps, then goes into a compressor, then into the computer. I've watched it while it was happening, and the signal that is coming out of the compressor has this drop-out artifact in it; however, the lights on the compressor don't change when it happens. I haven't listened to the signal going in to the compressor, so I don't know if it's happening upstream of it, or if the compressor is failing in this weird way. Of course, it's not reproducible on demand: the only way I was able to catch it in the act was to sit here in the office and listen to the webcast for six hours on friday until it started happening. It happened last friday and saturday, then did not happen on thursday, then did happen on friday, and is happening again tonight. I was wondering whether it was a heat-related problem, but it was actually uncharacteristically cool in the office on friday night, so I don't think that's it.
I tried listening to the pre-compressor audio for a while tonight, and I didn't hear it happen, but that's not very conclusive. Plus, I only listened for around ten minutes, because I don't have enough of the necessary adapters, so I had to actually take the webcast offline while I was listening to that part of the path. Blah.