Monday, November 10, 2008

There's one born every... what?

Okay, you can tell this isn't going to be my most precise piece of maths since I wrote a feature on how to model the UK economy in Excel*. And perhaps the first clue to how many decimal places of accuracy I'm aiming for will come when you reach the word "Wikipedia".

Wikipedia - that didn't take long; I thought you'd trust me at least a little longer - says the world's population is growing at 75 million people per year. Now, I make that 0.007 people every minute. So that's 1,428.6 minutes per person. Most people will tell you it takes three minutes and nine months to make a person, but you heard the truth here first: it's 23 hours, 48 minutes, 57 seconds.

Now, that leaves you 11 minutes and 3 seconds to relax at the end of the day, but that's not what I'm looking for.

Instead, there's a news report today saying that spam email senders get one response for every 12.5 million emails they send.

And I can't join the dots. I so want to be able to say to you that therefore this means there is one sucker born every 9.7 seconds or something, but I've got one statistic in this hand, the other in that one, and I can't bring the two together. I think that part of it is that I'm missing an episode here, we don't have a comparative time basis for the two: do I need to know how long it takes 'em to send 12.5m emails? I think I do. I think I need to know how many they send per annum to conclusively figure it out.

Unless you know better. And can now take part in this Build a Reasonably Pointless But Faux Informative Punchline contest that I've just decided to come up with.

People, I got CSE grade 1 Maths: I'm far from proud of this, but I'm just saying. Any help welcomed.

William
*PS I really did do that, model the UK economy in Excel version 5. I think I've told you this before, but the economy's been on my mind a bit recently, I've been carrying some worry about whether my maths in that feature had any impact anywhere.

11 comments:

Paul Campbell said...

I hate to undermine your entire calculation, but aren't you looking at the net increase in population, not the actual number born every minute.

So every 23 hours, 48 minutes and 57 seconds one more person is born than dies. It could be that 6 people are born and 5 die. Or it could 6,000,000 born and 5,999,999 die. I've no idea.

Over to you and your spreadsheets...

hardy24 said...

Also, you'd need to know how many of those 12.5 million a real person actually sees. It could be 12 million, it could be 100,000. You definitely don't have enough information to do the maths.

Piers said...

Not to mention the fact that sending time would depend entirely on the machine you were using, the operating system, and how heavily loaded it was.

I fear this may be one of the great unponderables.

William Gallagher said...

Bugger. It was such a nice idea.

Oh, well. I used to get into these messes with Radio Times and the TV Stats column, but there once you'd invested more than a certain amount of time you were committed and on deadline.

Now, I walk away with calmness.

Thanks all,
William

Phill Barron said...

7

William Gallagher said...

Go on, admit it: how many different digits did you consider before deciding 7 was the funniest?

Phill Barron said...

7

William Gallagher said...

Bugger, I left the door open for you there and didn't even realise.

But I laughed again. Do you do Facebook status updates?

Phill Barron said...

Professionally?

Piers said...

Yes. For money.

William Gallagher said...

CVs, samples and ratecards to the usual address.

I should explain that this is an off-Facebook gag that's crept around onto it and various other places. Just in case you were wondering.