Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A back of the envelope calculation: the answer is 608

In the annals of the history of physics there is a famous "back of the envelope" ( well, scraps of paper anyway, while sat on a tree trunk during a Christmas holiday walk) calculation. This was undertaken by Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch, during a walk near Gothenburg in December 1938. Lise Meitner had just received news of an experiment that seemed to show the splitting of uranium atoms into two large-ish parts, at that time a completely unknown phenomenon. The calculation undertaken by Lise and Otto showed the theoretical possibility of this phenomenon, that we now talk of quite casually as "nuclear fission".

I did my own little calculation over the weekend.

Five years multiplied by ten months in the year (we usually miss out January and August), plus three months for the beginning of 2009 (when we did do January) and three months for the end of 2003 = 56 months

56 months multiplied by 8 hours every first Friday = 448 hours

Plus 32 hours multiplied by 5 to include the additional hours that go with the "Forty Hours" during the last five years = 608 hours.
If I take into account one or two extra events not included in the calculation, that puts 608 hours as a slightly conservative estimate of the number of hours of Eucharistic Adoration that I have facilitated in the parish since October 2003.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My PhD-student babysitter only allowed calculations on the backs of envelopes and/or faulty graphs. :)

608, that's an awesome number! Imagine the graces!