Friday, 26 March 2010

BBC science

I had been thinking that BBC science programmes had got considerably better lately when up came a monstrous blooper. In 'Richard Hammond's Invisible Worlds' on Tuesday, he informed us that if the electromagnetic spectrum were represented as a piano keyboard, with light as one octave, you would need a keyboard stretching to the sun.

One octave means one doubling of frequency, or one halving of wavelength. Taking one attometer (the upper limit for the size of a quark or electron) as the minimum wavelength and 14 billion light years as the maximum (absurd!), that gives a size range of 44 orders of magnitude or 146 doublings or halvings. Piano keyboard equivalent about 24 metres - less than to the end of my garden!

It is ridiculous even to do a calculation. It doesn't need two seconds thought. So how could the BBC let such a gross error through? More improvement needed!

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