This article is more than 1 year old

One does not simply shove elephants on a ballet shoe point and call it an acceptable measure of pressure

Thou shalt not devise thine own cursed metrics, we decree

Reg Standards Bureau A bizarre American website has come up with a new way of measuring pressure by referring to the weight of elephants delivered through the area of a ballet shoe. Frankly we're baffled.

To wit: a team of Australian scientists working on ways of making artificial diamonds for industrial drill tips figured out a way of doing so and published an academic paper about that.

So far, so good; every schoolchild learns that diamonds are made from the same carbon atoms as coal, having experienced far more intense pressure than the black flammable stuff. The Aussie boffins used a diamond anvil cell for a process aimed at crystallising carbon atoms at room temperature – something that would make it cheaper to create industrial diamonds at scale.

"Artificial versions of this famously hard material could find use as new cutting tools to slice through ultra-hard materials, new kinds of protective coatings or other industrial devices where hardness is a desirable attribute," reported the New Atlas website in a plain-English interpretation of the paper. Again, so far, so good.

But then they came out with this: "The team applied pressure equal to 640 African elephants on the tip of a ballet shoe, doing so in a way that caused an unexpected reaction among the carbon atoms in the device."

We are reliably informed by a former ballerina* that the exact size of the tip of a ballet shoe "depends on the shoe size of the person wearing it" but it's about 2" square (or 5cm x 5cm if you're calibrated for the 21st century) judging by a quick squint at an image search through a popular search engine.

As for the weight, this is non-compliant with the Register Standards Soviet's approved measures. Acceptable units include adult badgers, skateboarding rhinoceroses, and LINQ Hotel Recyclings.

Moreover, the unit these bizarre upstarts are using for weight isn't even precise, let alone easily understood. African elephants can be broken down into Savannah elephants and forest elephants, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Savannah variety comes in at up to 8 metric tonnes (9 long tons) while the GTi bush edition tips the scales at a nimble 5.5 tonnes (3⅔ skateboarding rhinoceroses or 12 per cent of an Australian Tram when correctly expressed in Reg standard units).

Having deliberately deliberated over this most quizzical of questions, we are therefore forced to announce that the "tip of a ballet shoe" does not meet the rigorous criteria required for inclusion in the Register Standards Converter.

It is therefore naughty in our sight and shall be required to snuff it immediately. ®


Our thanks to Reg reader Jim for spotting this oddity and passing to us for perusal.

*She took lessons when she was a kid and would kill me if I downgraded that description now.

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like