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How Tall Are These 11 Commonly Known Objects?

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We all know a football field is 100 yards and an Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters, but exactly how big are the buildings we pass by every day or the sites we learn about in school? Here’s how everything measures up—in terms that are easy to understand (but may boggle your mind just the same). 

1. Pencil; 7.5 inches

A standard No. 2 pencil measures 7.5 inches in length, from the end of the eraser to the unsharpened tip. This just so happens to also be the average size of the human, adult male hand (from the wrist to the tip of the longest finger).

2. Mailbox; 3.75 feet

A standard mailbox, as dictated by the United States Postal Service, is 45 inches—or 3.75 feet—tall. That’s six pencils (or hands) stacked one on top of another.

3. Elephant; 8.2 to 13 feet 

From the shoulder to the toe, the average African elephant (which is larger than its Asian counterpart) stands approximately 8.2 to 13 feet tall—or 2.2 to 3.5 mailboxes. Measured from the tip of the trunk to the end of the tail, however, the African elephant is approximately 23 to 29 feet long. That’s 276 to 348 inches, or 37 to 46 pencils. 

4. Washington’s Nose on Mount Rushmore; 21 feet 

Talk about a schnoz! At 21 feet long, the largest nose on Mount Rushmore belongs to the very first president of the United States, George Washington. (The noses of Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are each about a foot shorter.) For those keeping track, that’s roughly the same as a small African elephant with its trunk (but maybe not its tail) fully extended. 

5. Yellow School Bus; 36 feet

Your average yellow school bus is 36 feet long. Or, in keeping with the educational theme, 57.6 pencils laid end-to-end.

6. The White House; 70 feet 

Three and one third of Washington’s noses could fit inside the presidential residence. So could seven medium-sized elephants stacked one on top of another.  

7. Niagara Falls; 167 feet 

The combined elevation of the three drops that comprise Niagara Falls is 167 feet—or almost eight of Washington’s gigantic proboscises. That’s 19 elephants or 44-and-a-half mailboxes. Meanwhile, the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela, is 2,647 feet tall, or just shy of 706 mailboxes. 

8. Eiffel Tower; 986 feet 

The City of Light’s pride and joy is almost six times as tall as Niagara Falls. 

9. Empire State Building; 1,250 feet 

Taller still is New York’s shining beacon, the Empire State Building. The apple of the Big Apple’s eye is as tall as almost 18 White Houses. You could also measure the Empire State Building with 2,000 No. 2 pencils. 

10. Grand Canyon; 8,000 feet 

Leave it to Mother Nature to dwarf even the most iconic of man-made landmarks. It would take a tower of six and a half Empire State Buildings or over eight Eiffel Towers to match the Grand Canyon’s elevation at the North Rim. What’s that in elephants, you ask? Approximately 889 stacked atop one another. 

11. Golden Gate Bridge; 8,980 feet 

It would be quite a traffic jam, but 249 school buses could fit—bumper-to-bumper—on San Francisco’s great suspension bridge. Lay the Eiffel Tower on its side, and 9.1 of them could fit on the Golden Gate Bridge. Lay pencils end-to-end and you could make a trail of 14,368.

There’s an easier way to measure landmarks, animals, and household items than elephants and pencils. With Intel® RealSense™ snapshot you can measure anything you could want just by taking a photo. Learn more here.

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Big Questions
How Are Royal Babies Named?
Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

After much anticipation, England's royal family has finally received a tiny new addition. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second son was confirmed by Kensington Palace on April 23, but the name of the royal newborn has yet to be announced. For the heir to the British throne and his wife, choosing a name for their third child—who is already fifth in line to the throne—likely won't be as easy as flipping through a baby name book; it's tradition for royals to select names that honor important figures from British history.

According to ABC WJLA, selecting three or four names is typical when naming a royal baby. Will and Kate followed this unwritten rule when naming their first child, George Alexander Louis, and their second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Each name is an opportunity to pay homage to a different British royal who came before them. Some royal monikers have less savory connotations (Prince Harry's given name, Henry, is reminiscent of a certain wife-beheading monarch), but typically royal babies are named for people who held a significant and honorable spot in the family tree.

Because there's a limited pool of honorable monarchs from which to choose, placing bets on the royal baby name as the due date approaches has become a popular British pastime. One name that keeps cropping up this time around is James; the original King James ruled in the early 17th century, and it has been 330 years since a monarch named James wore the crown.

If the royal family does go with James for the first name of their youngest son, that still leaves at least a couple of slots to be filled. So far, the couple has stuck with three names each for their children, but there doesn't seem to be a limit; Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to George VI in 1936, shouldered the full name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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