Height of a Giraffe?

The arXiv (pronounced the same as archive) is a great resource to which astronomy and physics researchers can send copies of their scientific papers. That means that you, me and anyone else can often get an electronic copy of a paper without needing to find the original paper journal in a university library. Anyone can submit a paper to the arXiv and the paper does not have to be accepted to a peer-reviewed journal. The result is a complete mix of the good, the bad and the downright bizarre. It is the last of those categories that gives people things to talk about at tea break.

A week or so ago, the high energy physics (HEP) section of the arXiv had a paper by Don Page entitled The Height of a Giraffe, in which the author links the height of giraffes to constants in atomic physics. The paper builds on a previous paper (1980) on the subject which concluded that the maximum height of a human being would be several centimetres! This limit is obviously a bit out and, for some reason, neither author thinks that the gravity of the planet that the animal lives on has any bearing on its height. The giraffe paper goes on to say that a human being is approximately equal to an elephant (reminding me of people assuming a horse is a sphere to make the maths easier), so I can only assume that it is a very early April Fool's joke.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 13th Aug 2007 (16:45 PDT) | Permalink
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