The great debate

With Miss Carol Miller refusing to answer my emails and RSVP’s RSVP to my offer still pending – I’ve had to look elsewhere for kicks… and so, I give you “The Great Debate” a longstanding and popular water cooler conversation in the hallowed halls of Townsville Enterprise. Who would win in an inter-species battle of the death between a crocodile and a tiger shark. In search of an authoritative answer I contacted one of the world’s leading croc experts.

Dear Doctor Britton,

As a world leader in estuarine crocodile research
I’m hoping you’ll be able to shed some light on a long standing discussion
occuring within my circle of friends. We are debating the superioriy – or
ascendancy of the Estuarine Crocodile and the Tiger Shark. If these two natural
born killing machines were to engage in mortal combat which animal do you
believe would survive?

Assuming the animals in question were roughly the
same length – equal weight would involve a marked difference in size – and in a
location where both are found with some regularity – Townsville’s Cleveland Bay
for example, which creature do you think would come out on top in this clash of
the titans and why?

I thank you in advance for taking the time to answer
this query and reassure you that in no circumstances will I be seeking to
replicate, or actually create a set of circumstances whereby these animals duke
it out. Although suitable circumstances could possibly be created in an aquarium
facility with food being witheld from each animal to the point of desparate
hunger, I do not believe in playing God when it comes to the fate of such
magnificent animals. Still, it is an interesting question and one that no doubt
someone of your stature within the zoological community should be able to
expertly shed some light on…

Nathan Campbell

He replied…

These questions are always a bit hard to answer because, really, it all
depends on circumstances. A baby krait is quite capable of killing a
tigerif it happens to get a lucky bite in, but clearly a tiger is by far
thestronger and more likely winner of a contest between the two.Crocs and sharks
are two species that hunt in quite different manners, andso pitting one against
the other is difficult in terms of making the contestfair. There’s no
doubt that sharks are a lot more manoeuvrable in water,and if you put a croc and
a shark in the open ocean together my money wouldbe on the shark every time.
But crocs hunt by ambush and stealth, and ifyou put a shark into a muddy
river with a stealthy croc which got the firstbite and roll in then my money is
on the croc. In a limited spaceespecially the croc definitely has the
upper hand.So if you can imagine a balanced scenario where neither species would
be atany great advantage over the other then let me know, because otherwise
Idon’t think there’s a “right” answer to this question really.
I’vecertainly heard reports of tiger sharks killing crocs along the coast,
butI’ve also heard reports of crocs with bits of shark in their stomach, soeven
based on direct evidence it’s hard to pick a winner.I really think you’d be
better off tossing a coin because there are so manyvariables involved, but if I
had to put money on it I’d probably put it onthe shark if the contest was in
open water, and on the croc if the contestwas in a muddy tidal creek.
Best wishes,
–Dr Adam Britton, Crocodilian Specialist Senior Partner, Big
Gecko PO Box
925, Sanderson, NT 0813, Australia


Mark says:

Did you know the water cooler conversations are enshrined in modern management circles as an essential part of the information and knowledge (there’s a difference) sharing networks in any organisation.

I don’t know if this is what they envisaged, but I believe an eminently appropriate topic along with

* what would happen if you dropped a cat with toast strapped to its back, butter/topping side up.

* speaking of cats, is Schrödinger’s cat ok?

* if an arrow fired at a target must first travel half the distance to the target, and then must travel half the remaining distance, and so on, does it ever really get there? (I’ve heard persuasive arguments like this)

Nathan says:

I would say that wherever an arrow comes to rest (velocity = 0) it is at its target. Then it’s simply a question of how accurate the archer is.

Lila Bear says:

My sister and her friends once had a science project in high school which included some basic-sounding (key word being “sounding”) question about water, which they simply couldn’t figure out. So what did they do? What anyone would do in that scenario of course, email CSIRO and ask them. What was CSIRO’s answer? “We don’t know.” (Well, an extended version of that.) I found that incredibly funny.

michelle says:

We only wanted to know how much salt dissolved in water…

michelle says:

As for something else to think (/argue) about: Is 0.99999 recurring equal to 1?

Argument: What is 1 divided by 3? 0.33333 recurring . What is 0.33333 recurring multiplied by 3? 0.99999 recurring. So…?

My belief: The statements above are incorrect; 1 divided by 3 does not equal 0.33333 recurring.

Mark says:

If you really want to know Michelle, (and even if you don’t)

Mathematics is applied philosophy, and decimal representation is just a way of expressing concepts in mathematics. You could use hexadecimal (base 16 – each new column represents 16 of the previous), octal(8) or binary(2), or really any number system you want to do the same, but because most people have 5 digits on each hand, decimal makes sense to some people some of the time.

0.33333333… is a decimal representation of the number 1/3
(I think it’s 0.2525… in octal and 0.0101… in binary, if you care, and I remembered how to work it out correctly)

0.9999999… and 1.000000… are both valid decimal representations of 1 – see Wikipedia

Computers (including calculators) can’t represent all rational numbers (fancy name for fractions, 1/3, 22/7) exactly – binary provides its own recurring fractions, they’re not the same as in decimal – which makes for some nasty programming bugs if not planned for.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

Lila Bear says:

Or maybe 0.3333333 recurring doesn’t equal 0.99999 recurring.

Lila Bear says:

Whoops. Now that I re-read that (5 and a half hours later), I realise it was MEANT to say “Or maybe 0.3333333 recurring times 3 doesn’t equal 0.99999 recurring.”

matt m says:

some guy has devoted a whole website to the debate over point nine recurring being equal to one, complete with proofs. I guess it’s not really a debate then.

Joel says:

Mate, almost 2 weeks since a blog, you’re letting the procrastinator in me down

Lila Bear says:

He’s out of town. I think him and Robyn went to Brisbane. I think.

Joel says:

Bah, now how am I supposed to waste time?
Hello solitare…