Science Ignorance

Math matters because science matters.

This article at the Huffington Post describes how Google has purchased 20 years worth of wind energy to power data centers.

That’s nice.

I am alarmed by the following text:

researchers found that “a single Google search requires half a milliliter of water in energy, and therefore the 300 million searches worldwide, each day require 150,000 liters of water to produce the required electrical power.” (emphasis added)

With the exception of hydroelectricity, which is not the subject of the article, we don’t get our electrical energy from water! Why did Bianca Bosker include this information? Is she aware that we don’t get our energy from water? I think she wanted to put Google’s energy use in context and quoted this article which also neglects to explain the connection between water and electricity.

Right now there are 75 comments on the article. None of them mention this misinformation.

So what’s the big deal?

This is an example of our collective ignorance when it come to science. Science is important, especially when it comes to our sources of energy. Our society lives and breathes on energy. Without it, we are cavemen.

Two different news sources published wrong information.  Isn’t it their job to help educate their readers?

Update: I found the original source, which emphasizes that there is a shortage of both energy and water. They also explain that generating electricity usually requires water but it doesn’t come from water. (Even these electrical engineers fail to explain that most of the water used in power plants is recycled.)

A Huffpost Moderator did post a correction in the comments.  He was nicer than I was and never used the word “ignorant.”

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brendan Locke on July 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Huffington Post is quite often very confused as to what Science actually is. They frequently post ridiculous articles (like the one about a huge methane bubble in the Gulf of Mexico that was going to kill us all) that are blatantly anti-science at worst, ignorant at best. I wouldn’t trust them as a source for actual science news. Any outlet that posts about Creationism and Homeopathy alongside hard Science (and portrays all as fact) immediately loses credbility, in my opinion.

    Reply

  2. Posted by BikeCommuter on July 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Good blog. You might be interested to know that there is another earlier Huffington Post article that repeats the same claim. In fact, the bogus claim is actually the focus of that earlier article (which is actually a reprint of the Independent article).

    (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/02/google-search-costs-half_n_633931.html)

    It always gets to me when major websites reprint such silly data without even a little bit of checking. It spreads the misinformation across the internet until it becomes accepted as something “everyone knows”. In other words, just another urban legend.

    Reply

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