Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dear Mr. Famiglietti

Eli 7.0 and I have been watching the Olympics every day for the last week and a half.

Eli's hooked up into the concept of three medals for each event, but it's difficult for him to understand what an achievement it is to even make it to the Olympics. We were watching Anthony Famiglietti in the steeplechase, and he finished 13th in the finals.

"That was a great run," I said. "It's incredible to make it to the Olympic finals."

"But Dad," Eli said, "he was TERRIBLE. He didn't even get a medal."

I thought about this for a day or so, trying to think of a way that I could help Eli understand that being thirteenth in the world was totally fantastic.

"Dude, let's try something," I said.

"What?" he asked.

"Let's find all the pennies we can," I said, "and stack them as high as we can. I want to find out if every person on earth was a penny, and we stacked them all together, how high they would be."

"But we won't have enough pennies," Eli said.

"That's okay," I said. "If we know how high a hundred pennies would be, we can figure out how many times we have to multiply that to equal the population of the world."

So we did. One hundred pennies were 5.625" high. When I checked, there were 6,836,412,600 people in the world.

Let's just cut to the thrill, even though I'm sure I got the math wrong somewhere: the stack of pennies would be 6,069.25 miles high.


Thirteen pennies are .75" high.

"See, little man," I said. "Anthony is in the top inch of over 6,000 miles of pennies. That's what it means to be thirteenth in the world."

"WOW!" he said. "He's GREAT."

Dear Mr. Famiglietti:
I know you didn't win a medal, but your place in the pennies still kicks ass.

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