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<   No. 2545   2010-01-14   >

Comic #2545

1 Steve: How far do we want to go back in time?
1 Jane Goodall: 24 hours should do it.
2 Steve: {arcane symbols} 24 {more arcane symbols}
3 {scene change: They are standing in a jungle}
4 Jane Goodall: Oh, now I remember. {arcane symbol} doesn't mean hours. It's a period of time equal to roughly 6 million years. {a dinosaur appears}

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Well, that's less than eleven orders of magnitude wrong. That's virtually identical in astronomy terms!*

* Astronomer joke.

2023-12-31 Rerun commentary: That's a total of "roughly" 144 million years, corresponding to our best estimates of when Allosaurus roamed the Earth: 155 to 145 million years ago.

As for the astronomer joke, this references a thing that I remember happening when I was studying for my degree. There was some new theoretical result in astrophysics which narrowed down some physical variable to a range of about 30 orders of magnitude, and everyone thought this was a great breakthrough. And sometimes there are measurements made in astronomy where the uncertainties are many orders of magnitude. It's like saying we measured the mass of some planet, and it's somewhere between the mass of a star and the mass of a hamster. Yes, probably correct, but not particularly useful.

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