Punch,  49 (1865), 114.

Light and Hair



News-Commentary, Drollery


Light, Heat, Astronomy, Mechanics, Measurement, Mathematics, Scientific Practitioners, Gender

    Discusses an extract from an article in the Mechanics' Magazine which reports that 'a writer in Cosmos has calculated' that the 'mechanical equivalent of the total light of the sun' is '1,230 septillion of "bougies"'. Criticises this extract for being incomprehensible and points out that 'no one cares about giving himself the trouble, either to verify, or disprove' the large figures that 'arithmetical athletes' produce, suggesting that Charles Babbage 'would sooner be ground to death by an Italian organ than undertake such an idiotic Herculean task'. Compares this to a recent report of a 'German professor' who 'discovered the difference of the number of hairs on the head of four young ladies'—a delicate activity that Punch thinks should have been stopped.

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