Word nerd – meaningful comparisons

Adam Hamilton gave me a little word nerd high this morning. He has a post about star gazing – nerdy enough in itself – that has a great illustration about how to make abstract statistics meaningful to people.

Here’s what he wrote:

It is located approximately 640 light years away (which means the light we see with the naked eye left Betelgeuse 640 years ago …. Betelgeuse is known as a red supergiant. In size (diameter) it is between 500 and 1,000 times the size of our sun. Which means, if it were located where our sun is located, it would completely fill our inner solar system, taking out earth and reaching nearly to Jupiter! Imagine a beachball at mid-field at Arrowhead Stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs play. The beachball would be our sun, and Arrowhead Stadium the size of Betelgeuse.

It’s that last bit I like the most. The beachball and stadium comparison wonderfully captures the difference, don’t you think?

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