How Tall Are These 11 Commonly Known Objects?

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istock

We all know a football field is 100 yards and an Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters, but exactly how big are the buildings we pass by every day or the sites we learn about in school? Here’s how everything measures up—in terms that are easy to understand (but may boggle your mind just the same). 

1. Pencil; 7.5 inches

A standard No. 2 pencil measures 7.5 inches in length, from the end of the eraser to the unsharpened tip. This just so happens to also be the average size of the human, adult male hand (from the wrist to the tip of the longest finger).

2. Mailbox; 3.75 feet

A standard mailbox, as dictated by the United States Postal Service, is 45 inches—or 3.75 feet—tall. That’s six pencils (or hands) stacked one on top of another.

3. Elephant; 8.2 to 13 feet 

From the shoulder to the toe, the average African elephant (which is larger than its Asian counterpart) stands approximately 8.2 to 13 feet tall—or 2.2 to 3.5 mailboxes. Measured from the tip of the trunk to the end of the tail, however, the African elephant is approximately 23 to 29 feet long. That’s 276 to 348 inches, or 37 to 46 pencils. 

4. Washington’s Nose on Mount Rushmore; 21 feet 

Talk about a schnoz! At 21 feet long, the largest nose on Mount Rushmore belongs to the very first president of the United States, George Washington. (The noses of Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are each about a foot shorter.) For those keeping track, that’s roughly the same as a small African elephant with its trunk (but maybe not its tail) fully extended. 

5. Yellow School Bus; 36 feet

Your average yellow school bus is 36 feet long. Or, in keeping with the educational theme, 57.6 pencils laid end-to-end.

6. The White House; 70 feet 

Three and one third of Washington’s noses could fit inside the presidential residence. So could seven medium-sized elephants stacked one on top of another.  

7. Niagara Falls; 167 feet 

The combined elevation of the three drops that comprise Niagara Falls is 167 feet—or almost eight of Washington’s gigantic proboscises. That’s 19 elephants or 44-and-a-half mailboxes. Meanwhile, the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela, is 2,647 feet tall, or just shy of 706 mailboxes. 

8. Eiffel Tower; 986 feet 

The City of Light’s pride and joy is almost six times as tall as Niagara Falls. 

9. Empire State Building; 1,250 feet 

Taller still is New York’s shining beacon, the Empire State Building. The apple of the Big Apple’s eye is as tall as almost 18 White Houses. You could also measure the Empire State Building with 2,000 No. 2 pencils. 

10. Grand Canyon; 8,000 feet 

Leave it to Mother Nature to dwarf even the most iconic of man-made landmarks. It would take a tower of six and a half Empire State Buildings or over eight Eiffel Towers to match the Grand Canyon’s elevation at the North Rim. What’s that in elephants, you ask? Approximately 889 stacked atop one another. 

11. Golden Gate Bridge; 8,980 feet 

It would be quite a traffic jam, but 249 school buses could fit—bumper-to-bumper—on San Francisco’s great suspension bridge. Lay the Eiffel Tower on its side, and 9.1 of them could fit on the Golden Gate Bridge. Lay pencils end-to-end and you could make a trail of 14,368.

There’s an easier way to measure landmarks, animals, and household items than elephants and pencils. With Intel® RealSense™ snapshot you can measure anything you could want just by taking a photo. Learn more here.

Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?

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iStock

Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

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What’s the Difference Between Crocheting and Knitting?

djedzura/iStock via Getty Images
djedzura/iStock via Getty Images

With blustery days officially upon us, the most pressing question about your sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens is probably: “Are these keeping me warm?” If you’re a DIY enthusiast, or just a detail-oriented person in general, your next question might be: “Were these knitted or crocheted?”

Knitting and crocheting are both calming crafts that involve yarn, produce cozy garments and other items, and can even boost your mental well-being. Having said that, they do have a few specific differences.

To knit, you need needles. The size, material, and number of those needles depends on the project; though most traditional garments are made using two needles, it’s also possible to knit with just one needle, or as many as five. But regardless of the other variables, one or both ends of your knitting needles will always be pointed.

While crocheting calls for a similar long, thin tool that varies in size and material, it has a hooked end—and you only ever need one. According to The Spruce Crafts, even if you hear people refer to the tool as a crochet needle, they’re really talking about a crochet hook.

crotchet hook and garment
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Part of the reason you only use one hook brings us to the next difference between crocheting and knitting: When crocheting, there’s only one “active loop” on your hook at any given time, whereas knitting entails lining up loops down the length of your needles and passing them between needles. The blog Darn Good Yarn explains that since each loop is attached to a long row of stitches, accidentally “dropping” one off the end of your needle might unravel the entire row.

Of course, you have a better chance of avoiding that type of manual error if you’re using a knitting machine or loom, which both exist. Crocheting, on the other hand, has to be done by hand. Since machines can create garments with extremely small stitches, some knit clothes can be much more lightweight or close-fitting than anything you’d be able to crochet—and knitted clothes can also be mass-produced.

When it comes to what the items actually look like, crochet stitches characteristically look more like knots, while knit stitches seem flatter and less bulky. However, materials and techniques have come a long way over the years, and now there’s more crossover between what you’re able to knit and crochet. According to The Spruce Crafts, socks and T-shirts—traditionally both garments that would be knitted—can now technically be crocheted.

knitting needles and garment
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And, believe it or not, knitting and crocheting can even be used to depict complicated mathematical concepts: see what a crocheted hyperbolic plane, Lorenz manifold, and more look like here.

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