A conversation about mathematics inspired by an area the size of Wales. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

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A conversation about mathematics inspired by an area the size of Wales. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

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On Wednesday 27^{th} November 2013, friend of The Aperiodical and standup mathematician Matt Parker tweeted a link to his latest YouTube video.

In the video Matt apologises for some remarks on the imperial number system that he made in an earlier Number Hub video about the A4 paper scale. He then goes into some of the quirkiness of the many imperial number units used for measuring length. It is an unusual ‘apology’, although very entertaining.

This got me thinking about how I think about lengths, and I tweeted that I often think in ‘metric-imperial’ units of length, or multiples of exactly 25mm in my job as a civil and structural engineer – a metric inch, if you like. Colin Wright suggested the name ‘minch’ for these units; there are then two score *minch* to the metre.

Following this pair of tweets about water:

A bucket full of water contains more atoms than there are bucketfuls of water in the Atlantic Ocean

— The QI Elves (@qikipedia) February 5, 2012

.@qikipedia There are 10,000× more molecules per pint of water than pints of water on earth. (3×10^21 pints/earth vs 2×10^25 molecules/pint)

— Matt Parker (@standupmaths) February 5, 2012

The obvious question is, at what point are the two numbers the same? Or,

*If you put all the Earth’s water into containers of the same size so that each container carries as many atoms of water as there are containers, how big is each container?*

Click here to continue reading Putting all the world’s water in buckets on cp’s mathem-o-blog