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Social distancing by linguine

I was reading an article in The Register that was commenting on Torbay Council's use of John Cleese as an example of appropriate social distancing of 2 metres.

And two metres is appropriate. I do not subscribe to the one metre rule that some people want (probably for commercial reasons), given that a metre is an Evian bottle further than my outstretched arm. If the person standing there has the unforgiving plague, then that's too damn close.

Anyway, the article ends up stating that as the world continues to be confused by the perfectly sensible 7.14 linguine - though it is perhaps obvious why measuring this as 0.04 brontosauruses may contribute to public confusion.

Now, as I'm on holiday and have plenty of free time, it seems only right that I look into this, as the measurement of 7.14 linguine just doesn't seem right to me. I won't comment on the brontosaurus measure as I don't happen to have one, only a cat, and they are much shorter. But being a lover of Italian perfection, pasta is something that I possess.

The first thing of note is that The Register's standards convertor is broken. It seems to think that 1 linguine is 14 centimetres, 5.512 inches if you measure the old fashioned way, or a perfectly respectable 0.0152 of a double decker bus (although the actual length of a bus varies between 9.5 and 11.1 metres depending on the model).
But the main point... 14 centimetres for a piece of linguine? What is that, fun size?

I felt that a piece of linguine ought to be about a quarter metre in length. It seemed "not quite as long as the 1ft/30cm ruler I used to twang endlessly on the desk at school.

Laying out linguine on a measure indicates that they are, indeed, between 25 and 26 cm in length.

Linguine length

Which means, when a random selection of eight are laid end to end, it takes eight linguine to span a distance of two metres:

Two metres of linguine

I say "eight" and not a precise measurement like 7.85 because it will be exactly eight if all of the linguine that you pick are 25cm. If a mixture, as would be expected, it will be marginally less linguine. However given that we are talking about a supposedly "safe" distance from an infected harbringer of doom, I'm sure you can appreciate that it is utterly acceptable to be a few centimetres over, and quite unacceptable to be a few centimetres under.

Linguine bokeh

Now, according to scientific principle, I have demonstrated that 7.14 linguine is too short (especially when according to their own convertor, that works out to be less than a metre!), but I have not proven eight linguine. All I have done is demonstrate that eight pieces of Barilla proper italian dried linguine is an appropriate distance.
For a more conclusive test, it would require other known brands (Panzani, etc) to be purchased and compared; though it is worth noting that Pasta Mancini agrees with the 26cm length.


If this obvious confusion over linguine lengths is too much to cope with, there is another simpler alternative. Two metres is exactly twenty two standard sized wrapped Mars bars.

Two metres of Mars bars

Though, sadly, only twenty made it back into the packaging. Please take a moment of silence in honour of the Mars bars' fallen comrades.



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Rob, 10th August 2020, 02:26
Personally, I like the BBC's suggestion of holding a broom out in front of you - if you can hit someone with it, they are too close. 
(I think they actually just told you to visualise it, as whacking people with brushes might be frowned upon. Though many of those I encountered in shops today undoubtedly deserved it.)
Janusz, 13th March 2021, 20:42
There is nothing standard about Mars bar lengths! 
On occasion their length has changed to keep the price the same, at other times the marketing department changes the dimensions.

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