Calibration fail

I was talk­ing on Fri­day with two peo­ple who’ve been to Italy re­cently and saw the lean­ing tower of Pisa. One of them was sur­prised at how short it was: “about 30 feet tall”, she said. Then the other per­son, who’d also seen it, agreed that it was sur­pris­ingly short, and said it was “only about as tall as the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment”.

“Wait,” I said. “You just said it’s 30 feet tall; and you just said it’s as tall as the Wash­ing­ton mon­u­ment, which has got to be at least 100 yards tall. And you agreed with each other.”

And they both shook their heads, and said, “No, the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment isn’t any­where near 100 yards tall.” We all live near Wash­ing­ton DC, and have seen the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment many times.

I said that the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment must be taller than that. One of them said that it was just as tiring to walk to the top of the Lean­ing Tower as to walk to the top of the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment; which was odd, since the WM stairs have been closed since be­fore he was born.

They fi­nally agreed that both struc­tures were about 30 yards tall.

The Lean­ing Tower is 183 feet tall, and the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment is 555 feet tall.