Gosh Darn you to Heck, cnn.com!

Yes, I said darn it to Heck! No wonder people think Americans are scientifically illiterate.

Here’s a fascinating article: ‘Starshade’ May Aid Space Exploration’

It’s about a proposal to put what is essentially a gigantic pinhole camera into space, with which it might be possible to get detailed images of Earth-sized extrasolar planets. Fantastic! Certainly worth however much it would cost.

But here’s the part of the article that annoys me (bolding mine):

A trillion miles is about two light months. It’s over 10,000 Astronomical Units. At 39,000 miles per hour (the speed at which Voyager 1, farther from Earth than any other man-made object, is heading out of the Solar System), it would take almost 3,000 years to travel that distance.

So I’m pretty sure that’s not the correct figure. I’d guess it was supposed to say “1 million miles”. Do they have no proofreading at CNN? The article has been up all day without being corrected.

So, excuse me, but this is the kind of bull poopy that makes me stamp me little foot. For cryin’ out loud.

Is their comment that it is hard to find planets because their parent stars are ten times brighter correct? Sounds way too low to me.

It was probably Reuter’s that made the mistake, not CNN.

Good point – but do they just present stuff from Reuter’s with no proofing? I guess they do. Actually I’m pretty ignorant about the news business.

No wonder people think Americans are journalistically illiterate. :stuck_out_tongue:

The guilty party:


Yeah, but it’s not like CNN doesn’t have a habit of screwing things like this up. Remember the crawl saying that the Columbia was travelling 18 times the speed of light?

You’d “guess”? So you couldn’t be bothered to look up the correct number either?

But you happen to be correct, it is 1 million miles (PDF cite). It’ll be in one of the Lagrange points.

Baldwin forgot his posts are immediately reposted as news at the BBC.

Baldwin regrets the mistake.

BTW, you can contact CNN with “questions” (that is, corrections to dumb mistakes).

I wonder if “proofing” even refers to stuff like this, and not just spelling and grammar.

It’s not just the news. In a big publicity release, the communications department at my company boasted that my division now had such-and-such million dollars under management. The correct figure was billions, not millions. You’d have thought that someone talking about their own company would know that a few tens of millions wasn’t boast-worthy in this business.

It looks like someone might have alerted them.

Clicking on the OP’s link shows that the error has been corrected.

They probably meant “Brazillions.”

Huh? Where is there a Lagrange point at 1 million miles from us?

Lagrange points for the Earth-Moon system include:
[ul][li]L-4 and L-5, 60 degrees away from the Moon ahead and behind it in the same orbit, about 250,000 miles away (all numbers here are round figures)[/li][li]A point between Earth and Moon at which the gravitational pulls of each are equal, on a guess about 200,000 miles away[/li][li]A point on the Earth-Moon line, extended a certain distance beyond the Moon, on a guess about 300,000 miles from Earth[/li][li]A point on the Earth-Moon line, extended a certain distance through and past the Earth from the Lunar perspective, on a guess 100,000 miles out[/ul][/li]
There are similar points for the Earth+Moon/Sun system, taking the Earth-Moon system as a single unit. L-4 and L-5 on this are 93,000,000 miles away, 60 degrees ahead and behind us in orbit. Similar figures can be generated for the L-1 thru L-3 points, but I doubt strongly any of them happen to be 1 million miles away from Earth (the one directly at the “midnight point,” possibly; I don’t have the orbital dynamics figures to calculate it).

Angua? Podkayne? Is this “1 million miles” somehow valid? Or is it a case of “proctostatistics” (“Numbers pulled out of…”)?

I did, actually, but I also mentioned the ‘ten times brighter,’ which still stands.



Well, I tried to find the correct figure, but couldn’t.

As noted by Polycarp, none of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points are a million miles away; but the L-2 Earth-Sun point (the “midnight point” Polycarp mentioned) is about 1.5 million kilometers out, so let’s call it good.

Anyway, the telescope is a fantastic idea. I haven’t seen a cost estimate, but surely it would be less than the cost for a month of occupying Iraq.

Last Friday the NYTimes reported Warren Buffet’s gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation as $31 million dollars.

It happens to the the best.