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07 Sept. 2006
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See How Easy It Is?

First the good news.  Looks like they've found 15 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  Although it will be difficult to get at, it does increase US reserves by about 50%.  Having more oil, whether or not you agree that we're addicted, or that it's being wasted, or just that it's gooey and ugly, is a good thing.  Huzzah for Chevron and their buddies.

Now the really good news!  You know how I'm always whining about how CNN can't get their numbers right?  Behold the majestic simplicity of the Wall Street journal, with this tiny excerpt from the 05 September edition, page 1:

Wall Street Journal article about increased oil reserves in Gulf of Mexico"...perhaps as much as 15 billion barrels' worth of oil and gas reserves.  If the industry succeeds in finding 15 billion barrels of oil, it would boost the nation's current reserves of 29.3 billion barrels by 50%..."

Just so!  Not 51%, which is closer to the true calculation.  Not 51.194539%, which is something CNN might foist on us, but 50%.  Why 50%?  Because 15 billion is only the rankest of guesses.  When you see 50%, you reasonably think "about half," which is probably a much better theory than any that mathematics is likely to adduce, given the error margins of the data used for the calculation.

So thank you, Wall Street Journal, for showing CNN how it's done.  "About half" even works in metric!

And besides, what other newspaper even comes close to mentioning element 112, "ununquadium" in a news story?  There's hope for Periodic Table Bingo yet.

2006
Richard Factor