A few months ago, I started a series of posts dealing with numbers. I shared some interesting fact or story about one number each post, starting with the number 1. I got up to 57, before getting distracted by other things. (Besides, the 57 post involved the Heinz product “MayoChup,” which scared the bejeezus out of me. And guess what? My wife now loves MayoChup. But I digress.) I make no promises about getting back into this series on a permanent basis, but here’s 58.
There’s an interesting story regarding the number 58. On September 13, 1922, at an Italian army base in El Azizia in northern Libya, a temperature of 58 degrees Celsius was recorded. (This is 136.4 in Fahrenheit for my American readers.) This rather warm temperature was listed as the hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet for exactly ninety years. But on September 13, 2012, the record was moved from Libya to Death Valley in the US. Not because there was a heat wave in California, but because El Azizia was stripped of its record by the World Meteorological Organization, and the heretofore second-place temperature of 56.7 C (134 F) that had been recorded in Death Valley in 1913 was now the record.
Turns out that the 58 measurement was a bit sketchy from the beginning. Investigators from the WMO noticed a few fishy things: it was recorded on equipment that was already considered obsolete by 1922 standards, with a pointer notoriously difficult to read; it didn’t mesh with other temperatures recorded in the region; it didn’t mesh with other temperatures at the same station. They surmised that there was probably a new or inexperienced observer at the station that day, because all the readings taken that day had inconsistencies.
I found this an interesting factoid, and started wondering about other records that might be challenged ninety years later.
- In 2030, exactly ninety years after Robert Wadlow was measured at 8’11” tall, it will be discovered that the tape measure used was actually a metric ruler, which makes him not 107 inches, but 107 cm tall. Which is about three and a half feet. Wadlow’s record as the tallest man was removed, and he was entered in the running for shortest.
- In July 2059, it will be determined that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did not actually land on the moon, as previously thought. In fact, they landed on a small asteroid that orbits the earth at only about 1,000 miles up. The next day, the Russian Space Agency will announce plans to land a cosmonaut on the real moon within nine months.
- On August 4, 2087, ninety years after her death was reported, Jeanne Louise Calment will be seen sunbathing in southern France. Ms. Calment had held the record as oldest human being, having lived 122 years. Her record will be updated to 212 years, and counting. People will begin to wonder if she’s a vampire or some other immortal being.
- In August 2109, ninety years after Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, was declared the largest model train set, it will be discovered that the “model” was actually built not by humans, but by a colony of ultra-intelligent ants, who used it as commuting transport. As such, it is no longer considered a valid “model train set.” And it’s way too small to break the record for largest train line.
That’s enough. Let’s see what I can find out about the number 59.