Don’t believe everything you hear — even on TED

Gutenberg’s press was a huge success because it was used to print indulgences. That I did not know. Here’s more on that.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Fascinating stuff. But I was rather surprised that Mr Walker has made a couple of boo-boos — one rather serious. The connection he made between the enigma machine and the DNA molecule is spurious at best. The bigger problem is with his claim that the energy required to move one MB of data across the internet is equivalent to that in a lump of coal — which I think is patently untrue. Did I make the calculations? No. But my instinct tells me that his estimate is a few orders of magnitude off.

The actual calculation I would do only on request. Thank you and have a nice weekend.

4 thoughts on “Don’t believe everything you hear — even on TED

  1. Karma Yogi Saturday September 25, 2010 / 12:26 pm

    Its so amusing that you feel that its your birthright to criticise what others say without you even wanting to take responsibility for doing a little calculation for proving them wrong! That’s so Indian of you!! 😀

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    • Atanu Dey Saturday September 25, 2010 / 4:43 pm

      Karma Yogi,

      It’s a matter of being able to judge whether some bit of information makes sense or not. An educated estimate can be made without paper and pencil — but only if one is suitably educated. You will find a rough estimate in my next post.

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  2. Semantic Overload Saturday September 25, 2010 / 12:38 pm

    Based on calculations from EnergyZarr of 11.5J per 315 KB and an average energy density of coal of about 20MJ/g, we get about 17mg of coal to transfer 10MB across the Internet. If a lump of coal weighs just 17mg, then coal is a lot lighter than I thought!

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