### What astronomical really means

As a quick, more quantitative followup to my previous picture-based post...

Imagine the size of the entire Earth. The distance from LA to New York is about 1/6 of the circumference of the Earth. The radius of the earth is $1/2\pi$ the circumference, which is about 1/6. So LA --> NYC is a good estimate for the "size" or radius of the Earth, or about 3000 miles according to my most recent frequent-flier statement ($R_{Earth} = 7000$ km).

Now consider the size of a single atom in your body. Your body is mostly water, which makes it mostly hydrogen. Hydrogen is made up of an electron orbiting a proton at a distance of roughly a "Bohr radius," which is about 50 picometers ($5 \times 10^{-11}$ meters).

This means that the Earth is $7\times10^{3} / 5 \times 10^{-11} \approx 10^{17}$ times bigger than an atom in your body. The Earth is

$100,000,000,000,000,000$

times bigger than an atom in your body. That's huge in comparison, as you might imagine.

Well, if we compare the size of the entire Universe to the size of the Earth, we come up with a number that is roughly 100 times bigger. The Earth in comparison to the size of the Universe is smaller than a single atom compared to the entire World.

So the next time you say something like "astronomically bigger," this is kinda what you mean :)

### The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I started by downloading a stock photo of J.J. from NBA.com, which I then loaded into OpenOffice Draw:

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…