When converting metric units into imperial units, journalists (or more likely sub-editors) are apt to make mistakes, especially if they are dealing with subjects with which they are not very familiar. On the 9th December 2006, The Times managed a hat-trick of blunders. [article contributed by MV]
Page 8 – Airlines should pay full cost of their pollution
The penultimate paragraph contained the text “[Boeing and Airbus] Aircraft use an average of four litres of fuel per 100 km”. This sentence should have raised the alarm bells – a consumption of 4 L/100 km is what one would expect of an economical car such as the Smart Car. (The imperial equivalent is 70 mpg!). If the writer used metric units when driving they would have spotted this howler.
Page 43 – Why the Dead Sea is dying
The fifth paragraph contains the phrase “to suck 1,900 million cubic metres (2.1 million cubic yards) of water”. This phrase contains two howlers. Firstly, a factor of 1000 seems to have gone missing. Secondly, the writer appears to have used a factor of 1.1 to convert cubic metres to cubic yards when the correct factor is 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 (which is equal to 1.331).
Page 44 – Spend a penny, but it make you think of a tenor
The third paragraph contains the sentence “The block, in Calcutta, is spread over 3,000 square metres (3,300 square yards) and is “. Here, the writer used a factor of 1.1 to convert square metres to square yards. The correct factor is 1.1 x 1.1 (which is equal to 1.21).