You know how, if you run a blog dedicated to the exposure of rubbish figures, you sometimes read something and you think: “That’s got to be wrong – I don’t even have to work it out.” Well here’s one from the Times last week – the news that over 5 milliion old televisions and video playerts would have to be thrown away as a result of the switch to digital broadcasting by 2012 and that

    this would fill 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools

What can we do with this? Apart from pointing out that we may well not have built one olympic-sized swimming pool by 2012? Apart from giving the Times an award for Most Innovative Use of the Olympic-Sized Swimming Pool Analogy?

Well obviously if we know the average size of a television or video recorder we could work out the size of an Olympic Swimming Pool.

However there is a problem: while video recorders tend to be cuboid, televisions – particularly older models – tend to be highly irregular in shape – how well tesselated should we assume they will be in these swimming pools? If we get this wrong, for instance by assuming that these televisions are more transformable than is actually the case, we could end up with 80 olympic-sizes swimming pools which were too shallow. They have to have a minimum depth of two metres to meet IOC standards. On the other hand if our OSSPs were of a regulation depth but we were having problems fitting the televisions in, we could probably smash the screens and then fit video recorders inside the TVs.

And another thing….
When this blog’s proofreader was checking that the word tesselated was being correctly used, they came across this:
From Mathforum
“Only three regular polygons tessellate in the Euclidean plane: triangles, squares or hexagons.We can’t show the entire plane, but imagine that these are pieces taken from planes that have been tiled.” I like that throwaway ‘we can’t show the entire plane’.