# Meters, Yard, Same Thing . . .

• AP report published on my local news station's Web site about the explosion in Oslo:  http://www.katu.com/news/national/126012068.html

"Witness Ole Tommy Pedersen was standing at a bus stop about 100 meters
(yards)
from the high-rise at around 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT) when the
explosion occurred."

I dunno, somehow I expect more from AP.  That's probably the real WTF.

• 100 meters has 1 significant digit. When converting, what is the point of saying 109.36 yards, when the distance is clearly a rough estimate anyway? I would say that using an inappropriate conversion is worse.

•  The parenthetical note makes it sound like the author didn't even try to do the conversion or know any difference between the units.  "100 meters (about 110 yards)" would've done fine.  Or even saying "100 meters (110 yards)" would have been close enough.  But the way it's written makes it sound like the two units are synonymous.

•  A yard is a meter, to about plus or minus ten percent. A very useful conversion. Also a liter is a quart.

Here's one for you: Which is heavier? A ton of steel in Boston, or a ton of steel in Bangkok?

The ton of steel in Bangkok is heavier, because it's a metric ton, 1000 kilograms, 2200 pounds. A ton of steel in Boston is only an archaic ton, 2000 pounds.

• @AndyCanfield said:

A yard is a meter, to about plus or minus ten percent. A very useful conversion. Also a liter is a quart.

Here's one for you: Which is heavier? A ton of steel in Boston, or a ton of steel in Bangkok?

The ton of steel in Bangkok is heavier, because it's a metric ton, 1000 kilograms, 2200 pounds. A ton of steel in Boston is only an archaic ton, 2000 pounds.

So once again, about ten percent.  As a resident of the last great bastion of real-world weights and measures, I'm comfortable with thinking of a meter as "a funny kind of yard", a liter as "the name foreigners use for a quart", and a tonne as "a ton measured on a sloppy scale".

• There's only 1 significant digit (well, that we can be sure of.) It so happens, while it looks wrong, it's actually correct in this case.

• @gramie said:

100 meters has 1 significant digit. When converting, what is the point of saying 109.36 yards, when the distance is clearly a rough estimate anyway? I would say that using an inappropriate conversion is worse.

@AndyCanfield said:

A yard is a meter, to about plus or minus ten percent. A very useful conversion. Also a liter is a quart.

Here's one for you: Which is heavier? A ton of steel in Boston, or a ton of steel in Bangkok?

The
ton of steel in Bangkok is heavier, because it's a metric ton, 1000
kilograms, 2200 pounds. A ton of steel in Boston is only an archaic ton,
2000 pounds

@blakeyrat said:

There's only 1 significant digit (well, that we can be sure of.) It so
happens, while it looks wrong, it's actually correct in this case.

Okay, I can see all your points and I understand that I'm the one that misinterpreted the way it was written. But is there some other way this could have been written so that it didn't prompt the same knee-jerk-y type reaction that I had?  Suggestions?  I still like the idea of "100 meters (about 100 yards)" because at least that looks like a little thought was put into it.

• @nonpartisan said:

@blakeyrat said:
There's only 1 significant digit (well, that we can be sure of.) It so
happens, while it looks wrong, it's actually correct in this case.
Okay, I can see all your points and I understand that I'm the one that misinterpreted the way it was written. But is there some other way this could have been written so that it didn't prompt the same knee-jerk-y type reaction that I had? Suggestions? I still like the idea of "100 meters (about 100 yards)" because at least that looks like a little thought was put into it.

Maybe the problem's on your end, not theirs.

Here's a suggestion: "100 meters (a football field)". HUH? HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT ONE, HUH? SMARTY-PANTS! STICK THAT IN YOUR MAW AND CHEW IT!

Or... something.

Edit: the real problem is that there's no way to tell the different between 100 (1 significant digit) and 100 (3 significant digits) in our writing system. You just have to kind of eyeball it and think to yourself, "eh, I guess he probably wasn't getting out a tape measure while bombs were going off..."

• @blakeyrat said:

Edit: the real problem is that there's no way to tell the different between 100 (1 significant digit) and 100 (3 significant digits) in our writing system. You just have to kind of eyeball it and think to yourself, "eh, I guess he probably wasn't getting out a tape measure while bombs were going off..."

1.00x102

• I agree that the actual amounts are close enough not to matter, but it is a silly way of putting it. I'd suspect that there was some local (metric using) person who first recorded the information, and the addition of yards was some editorial markup done at the last minute, either adding it or removing verbiage saying (about 100 yards).

TRWTF is that the AP didn't stick to its style book.

• @gramie said:

100 meters has 1 significant digit. When converting, what is the point of saying 109.36 yards, when the distance is clearly a rough estimate anyway? I would say that using an inappropriate conversion is worse.
+1 for your big sexy brain

• @Lord abletran said:

@blakeyrat said:

Edit: the real problem is that there's no way to tell the different between 100 (1 significant digit) and 100 (3 significant digits) in our writing system. You just have to kind of eyeball it and think to yourself, "eh, I guess he probably wasn't getting out a tape measure while bombs were going off..."

1.00x102

Which would get cut-and-pasted into the final article as "1.00x102".

• @da Doctah said:

@Lord abletran said:

@blakeyrat said:

Edit: the real problem is that there's no way to tell the different between 100 (1 significant digit) and 100 (3 significant digits) in our writing system. You just have to kind of eyeball it and think to yourself, "eh, I guess he probably wasn't getting out a tape measure while bombs were going off..."

1.00x102

Which would get cut-and-pasted into the final article as "1.00x102".

Which would then be converted to 111.548556 yards

• @da Doctah said:

@Lord abletran said:
1.00x102

Which would get cut-and-pasted into the final article as "1.00x102".

Duh. That's why you write it 1E2. And then people wonder why the pedantic dickweeds at the AP can't use numbers like normal people?

• The difference between yards and metres in this case is probably also much less than the difference in ways you could measure the distance between an explosion and a bus stop (which may consist entirely of a shelter with no fixed post to measure from).

• @gramie said:

100 meters has 1 significant digit. When converting, what is the point of saying 109.36 yards, when the distance is clearly a rough estimate anyway? I would say that using an inappropriate conversion is worse.

It was actually 9.36 yards from the near edge of the explosion to the far edge.

• Common or not, 100. is the the correct way to write one hundred with three significant figures. But I reckon the only people who would know and care would rather see it in scientific notation anyway.

• Making a point of getting the difference right between 100 regular meters and 109.36 imperial meters is just another way for us to be pedantic.

• I figured whomever wrote this meant to write "100 meters ([put conversion here] yards)", but got distracted and forgot to go back and put the conversion in.

• @lolwtf said:

I figured whoever wrote this meant to write "100 meters ([put conversion here] yards)", but got distracted and forgot to go back and put the conversion in.
FTFY

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