AVOID POP-SCI FACTOIDS

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Letters -

I’m a great fan of Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics, and have sub­scribed for years, so I apol­o­gise that I seem to keep nit­pick­ing, but you have set your­selves a high stan­dard that you now have to main­tain!

The March 2016 is­sue had a piece on the US Navy’s elec­tro­mag­netic rail­gun, in which it states “af­ter stor­ing up charge, the gun re­leases 1 200 volts in 10 mil­lisec­onds”. That is a state­ment with al­most zero in­for­ma­tion con­tent. A static charge built up on your body by rub­bing with fur can dis­charge as much as 30 000 volts in a mi­crosec­ond, which nu­mer­i­cally trumps the rail­gun by more than five or­ders of mag­ni­tude, but is clearly not re­ally a com­peti­tor.

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