# There is a lunchtime argument in our office.

| 13:39 UK time, Wednesday, 21 October 2009

One person says you can fit the entire global human population on the Isle of Wight. Another says that's an urban (or island) myth.

Can you help?

• 1. At 2:00pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Figures are approximate.

Isle of Wight Area = 147 sq ml = 38,072 ha = 380,720,000 sq.m.
World population say 6,707,000,000

So if you can get over 17 people into 1 sq m. then yes. If not, then no.

(But I was never good at maths)

• 2. At 2:03pm on 21 Oct 2009, ValeryP wrote:

But why would you want to?

• 3. At 2:05pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Val P - I think next year's festival is going to be MASSIVE.

• 4. At 2:11pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

384 million square metres, 6792 million people ... 17 and two thirds people per square metre ... just doable, possibly.

• 5. At 2:16pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Did you know that if you put all the world's (human) blood into the Dead Sea, it would raise the depth by three-quarters of an inch?

• 6. At 2:18pm on 21 Oct 2009, SproutGhost wrote:

Do we have to book? Is there discounts for families?

• 7. At 2:19pm on 21 Oct 2009, musicalbodger wrote:

But wouldn't it sink?....Or is that the idea?

• 8. At 2:21pm on 21 Oct 2009, gossipmistress wrote:

Do they have to be alive? Because at 17 per sq metre I'm pretty sure some of them wouldn't be still breathing. Unless they could be stacked vertically.

• 9. At 2:22pm on 21 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

Eddie:
Simple solution, it can fit both the ISLE OF WIGHT and the urban setting...

~Dennis Junior~

• 10. At 2:27pm on 21 Oct 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

Preston - I think this may have been the case 30 years ago, but the population has zoomed up from around 4.1 billion then to over 6 billion now.

• 11. At 2:30pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

You'd have to fit in a space about 24 cm square ... quite a few children could manage that, and leave a little bit over - but not enough to enable the rest of us to fit (and breath).

• 12. At 2:32pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

My good Lord ...

Preston said: "World population say 6,707,000,000" It's actually a bit more than that (6.792 billion last week).

• 13. At 2:33pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

lordBeddGelert (10)- 6,707,000,000 is more than 6 billion.

• 14. At 2:35pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Sid (11) - Don't worry, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will start a campaign to get us more space.

• 15. At 2:36pm on 21 Oct 2009, invincibleoldandwise wrote:

I'm sure I read somewhere that England has the highest density of population in Europe. In fact, three times the European average, if I recall. It's easy to be jokey or flippant about this subject but when you've covered the land with concrete and brick for people to live in, where does the food come from? Oh I know, those nice people in the Developing World will grow it and sell it to us cheaply.....won't they?

• 16. At 2:36pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Sid (12) - Yep, my estimate was dated more than a year ago.

• 17. At 2:40pm on 21 Oct 2009, gossipmistress wrote:

9 standing adults with 8 children or small people on their shoulders per square metre?

I think we need to know how long they would ahve to stand there for. With the time it would take to get them all in position, the ones at the beginning would need supplies airlifted in and there could be casualties from an aerial food drop.

• 18. At 2:44pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

invincibleoldandwise (15) - I think The Netherlands would give England a good run for the title.

• 19. At 2:46pm on 21 Oct 2009, SheffTim wrote:

How much of the space would have to be occupied by port-a-loos, food stalls and camp sites? The ferry ques would be so immense that those that reached the IoW first would have died by the time those only halfway down the que managed to arrive (The crematorium would have to be upgraded too.)
Mind you if every musician in the world was going to be there then a Pyramid stage should have some good acts to entertain the crowds whilst they waited, but that would reduce the standing room.

Of course not everyone would turn up, can you imagine how enraged Nick Griffin would be at the thought of all those foreign immigrants on British soil.

• 20. At 2:50pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Top ten: (n/km2)

Monaco 16,000
Gibraltar (UK) 5,000
Vatican City 2,000
Malta 1,260
Guernsey (UK) 830
Jersey (UK) 774
San Marino 455
Netherlands 393
Belgium 337
United Kingdom 244

• 21. At 2:59pm on 21 Oct 2009, Tony Kennick wrote:

From the maths it looks like the answer is "Yes if they are minced"

• 22. At 3:08pm on 21 Oct 2009, redwalt wrote:

Is this to do with SchrÃ¶dinger's cat ?

• 23. At 3:12pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

n=1 person, Sid?

I'd heard, many years ago, that Zanzibar was the island. But I don't know much about Zanzibar, and, of course, the population will have grown a lot since then.

• 24. At 3:22pm on 21 Oct 2009, invincibleoldandwise wrote:

Sid @ 20
The article I read specifically dealt with England's population, not that of the UK. Scotland, NI and Wales are relatively sparsely populated compared with England, I believe.
Can you run that table again using just England's population?

• 25. At 3:26pm on 21 Oct 2009, Humph wrote:

Maybe if you covered the island with a twenty storey building, that would leave enough room for everyone and allow for supporting walls as well.

H.

• 26. At 3:27pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Population density 2003
(people per sq km)

England 383
Northern Ireland 125
Scotland 65
Wales 142
United Kingdom 246

• 27. At 3:28pm on 21 Oct 2009, vagueofgodalming wrote:

Google World population, look up Wikipedia article, note number; Google Isle of Wight, look up Wikipedia article, note number, do rough and ready sum. Preston's calculation takes less than a minute's work.

This is an argument in an office. An office with computers. Connected to the internet. This is an argument in an office of a Current Affairs programme of the BBC. And you need help from us?

Wibble.

• 28. At 3:42pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

Hello, Humph!

• 29. At 3:44pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

Hve you stopped arguing, PM team?

• 30. At 3:52pm on 21 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

vagueofgodalming (27) - You haven't quite grasped the process, have you?
Eddie and t'others work in an office dedicated to finding leads, researching stories, arranging interviews and generally preparing to bring the world to our radios between 5 and 6. They don't have the time to bother themselves researching trivia like this.
That's why we're here.

• 31. At 4:09pm on 21 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

But how long would it before they all started Needling each other?

• 32. At 4:24pm on 21 Oct 2009, redwalt wrote:

Perhaps the team are just Cowed by the enormity of the maths involved?

• 33. At 4:32pm on 21 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

Where would they all get fresh water from?

• 34. At 4:35pm on 21 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

And to get them all there, they'd have to build a new port.

• 35. At 4:40pm on 21 Oct 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

You are all as mad as snakes.

• 36. At 4:53pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

And then they'd need to get a ryde to their allotted place. Hoping not to get any sandown their shoes or socks.

• 37. At 4:54pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

Does anyone remember that old riddle about the Island?
Ryde where you walk, Needles you can't thread, Freshwater you can't drink etc?

• 38. At 4:57pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

Aha! Have goggled. When I was little there vwere Seven Wonders. Now it's up to eight:

http://www.invectis.co.uk/iow/facts.htm

• 39. At 4:59pm on 21 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

ValP, there is also, or was, a PLUTO.

• 40. At 5:05pm on 21 Oct 2009, Froggersfroat wrote:

They'll need a few new, bigger ferries .....

• 41. At 5:18pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Further to my 5 ...

If you wanted to put all the blood in the world in Central Park, you'd need to build a wall about 20 feet high round it.

• 42. At 6:46pm on 21 Oct 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

'If you wanted to put all the blood in the world in Central Park, you'd need to build a wall about 20 feet high round it.'

Would the service be rippling with the vibrations coming from Madonna's home stereo in her apartment?

• 43. At 6:49pm on 21 Oct 2009, gossipmistress wrote:

Sid (41) it'd be a right bloodbath

• 44. At 7:55pm on 21 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

PF @ 30

So what form do you suppose the 'argument' took?

(I'm imagining pantomime.)

• 45. At 9:25pm on 21 Oct 2009, Aperitif wrote:

Yes, I can help: Tell them to find something more useful to do.

• 46. At 10:19pm on 21 Oct 2009, stevep wrote:

Guys

I think this relates to a comment about 30-40 years ago where someone calculated that if you gave each person x amount of space then the entire population at the time could stand on Zanzibar - I think it was at the time. Also some figures for what islands would apply with different world populations. A long while ago when I read this so details are a bit vague.

It was the trigger for John Brunner's novel 'A stand on Zanzibar' and he might have quoted those figures in the preface to the book.

Steve

• 47. At 10:47pm on 21 Oct 2009, ValeryP wrote:

FrancesO - 39 - well, what are we waiting for, get those shoes polished and off we go?

Further to my 2 - Eddie, did you mean, can we help them to fit on?

• 48. At 01:05am on 22 Oct 2009, Redheylin wrote:

What's black and steamy and smelly and comes out of the back side of Cowes? Oh drat, you give it away when you write it. Never mind, look;

Did you know that if you took all the people in the world and laid them head-to-toe around the equator, two thirds of them would drown?

Did you know that if you took the highest mountain in the world, put the second highest on top of it, then the third highest on top of that and so on until you got to the hundredth highest, you'd be really tired?

But what I want to know is; I want to know this. (Yes, I speak fluent Westminster, let's be clear) How many double-decker buses can you fit on a football pitch the size of Wales?

• 49. At 01:08am on 22 Oct 2009, Redheylin wrote:

48 - the correct answer is, of course, "Nelson's Column".

• 50. At 09:34am on 22 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Here's a question: How long would it take dump trucks to cart away Mt Fuji?

(Assume a truck every fifteen minutes, 24 hours a day, filled with mountain dirt and rock instantly, no one getting in each others way.)

• 51. At 10:38am on 22 Oct 2009, pmmolly wrote:

This discussion is rapidly turning into something which would do Tony Hancock proud on a wet Sunday afternoon.

• 52. At 10:40am on 22 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Molly - can you see that pattern in the wallpaper? You have to turn your head a bit ... no, the other way ...

• 53. At 11:00am on 22 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Sid (50) - That's a really silly question! How, can we work that out when we don't know the capacity of the dump trucks?

But if we assume that they are the bigger ones and can take nearly 30 cubic metres and that they start hauling the stuff NOW, I don't think that they would be finished before the weekend. It might even be Tuesday.

And if they start at the top and take all of Mount Fuji away and place it somewhere else, would it then be known as Mount Ijuf?

• 54. At 1:55pm on 22 Oct 2009, Sid wrote:

Preston - according to John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy*, it would be about 5,000 to 10,000 years.

Subtitled Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences

• 55. At 2:15pm on 22 Oct 2009, U14138029 wrote:

Sid - I'm pretty certain I was sick the day we did 'working out moving mountains'.
And anyway I'm not impressed - 5,000 to 10,000 is a bit too wide. I mean you wouldn't get away with -
Q. If I gave you 3 pound coins and 8 fifty-pence pieces, how much would you have?
A. About 5 to 10 pounds.

Although, now that I think about it, that's probably the sort of calculations the bankers have been doing for a number of years.

• 56. At 3:08pm on 22 Oct 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

Mornington Crescent.

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