Something Fishy (well, mammaly)

I do enjoy the comparable sizes that people give to things.

My favourite is when I am told that a certain thing is the length of x number of football pitches. Mainly because I have no idea how big a football pitch is, nor do I intend to find out. If they just told me the length of the item in question, I’d have a much better idea of it using standard units of measurement than a piece of grass that overpaid numpties play on for ninety minutes.

As tall as three double decker buses. That’s another one.  That’s not as bad, because you have a rough idea of the height of a double decker bus. You can visualise that. It’s not so easy visualising what three double decker buses stacked on top of each other would look like because it’s not a concept you ever come across in your daily life, but still it’s often a scale of measurement used when putting across the size of dinosaurs, for some reason.

And then today, an asteroid has missed the Earth by several thousand miles. But that counts as a close shave, a narrow escape, a near miss. It was an asteroid capable of destroying a city – presumably if it hit the Earth in the area of a city, I don’t think it would just arbitrarily destroy a city if it landed in the sea, or a desert. But you never know with space rocks do you?

Anyway, this asteroid was the size of a whale.

You know what, sod off.

The size of a whale? That’s not a legitimate unit of measurement. It’s not. Partly because, many times, whale sizes are often expressed in bus lengths, but also because it hasn’t specified the type of whale. Was it a Minke, a Sperm or a Blue? I mean, with its city destroying back-story, it should have been a Killer. But you can’t just whack a measurement on something when the unit of measurement you’re using comes in all sorts of different sizes.

Also, even having seen the blue whale at the Natural History Museum several (lots) times, I couldn’t say I really knew how big it was. Because it’s not something I come across on a daily basis. It’s like the person who spotted it, and catalogued it and measured it thought, “Hey, what’s the least spacey object I can use to accurately portray the size of this death rock? Oh, I know, a whale.”

And when his colleagues (or her, I don’t know) asked what sort of whale (s)he shrugged off the question because they don’t do sea-based mammals, just space stuff.

Also capable of destroying a city. Again, that’s a bit vague isn’t it. Not all cities are the same. Much as not all whales are the same. I mean, to me, this seems like a story which set out with a very distinctive set of measurements in it – an asteroid this big which could destroy an area covering this radius, and someone has dumbed it down using Google to find comparative sizes for the type of sea creature and the destructive area.

Whale – City

Dolphin – Large Town

Tuna – Small Town

Cod – Village

Clownfish – House

You get the idea.