Saturday, August 05, 2006

Buy Gum

I see that Wrigleys, purveyors of fine chewing gum since 1786 have decided to give €1 million to Irish scientists to research ways of making bubble gum less sticky. Ungumming the gum as it were.

This set me thinking and being a lass known for her mental arithmetic, I started counting also. Walking up Merrion square this evening, I undertook my own scientific experiment. Using a 0.5 metre square sampling reference (i.e a paving slab), I counted the number of black chewing gum deposits per slab. On average there are 3 spots per slab and around government buildings the footpath is 5 slabs wide. Hence there are approximately 15 spots in each 0.5 metre distance of Merrion Square. According to AA Ireland, it is 3.6 miles from the Dept of Finance to the Dept of the Environment. (I really wish these guys would go metric some day soon.) That’s 5.8km in new money. Or 175,000 splots of chewing gum if you are obsessive compulsive like me.

€1,000,000 would buy you 2,000,000 packs of Wriggles gum, each packet containing 5 sticks of gum. Imaging that one half of the people who chew these 10,000,000 sticks ignore the nice silver paper and disgard the spent gum on the footpath. This is a gross generalisation but go with me on this one. So 5,000,000 sticks of gum is about 28 times between the Department of Finance and the Dept of the Environment. If one indolent person shuffling between these two points did one stick per day, in one month he (for surely it would be a man) would have littered spent the same money defacing a small section of our Capital City thoroughfare as Wrigley’s will paid to solve the problem.

And anyway, what would € 1,000,000 buy you in research brains these days? Let us say we put together a team of scientists. We’d probably have 5 of our brightest and best. Let’s imaging that we give them a 3 year contract and pay them €36,000 per annum each. There goes €540,000. And no doubt we’d need to rent them a laboratory. We’ll give them a reasonable sized laboratory in a modest part of the city. There goes another €60,000 minimum. We’ll probably buy them some chemicals and reagents and, irony of irony, we’ll probably have to buy them some gum to test. Lets imaging we spend €125,000 on consumables over the 3 years. We add on the 30% overhead that our noble universities will demand for hosting this crack gum busting scientists. That leaves us just under €60,000 small change to go to the odd international convention of gum busters, write the odd report and publish their findings.

Mmm, can’t help thinking the Dick Roche might have been better putting a 10 cent tax on every packet of chewing gum.


Blogger JL Pagano said...

Well, Paige, you have certainly given us a lot to chew on.

Hey - if it wasn't me it would've been someone else!

5:33 p.m., August 06, 2006  
Blogger -Ann said...

Does this 1 million euro include the money that the chewing gum industry is putting up to bombard us with those annoying ads with the ugly pink boots? Or is this an additional, extra 1 million euro?

By the way, being a certified Math Moron (TM), I am in awe of your calculation abilities.

8:55 p.m., August 06, 2006  
Blogger parnellpr said...

pagano- tee hee.

God what a waste of money though. Why not put into researching better ways of getting rid of the pesky stuff from our public areas?

Did those links so hopefully some of my other readers will be over here soon.


11:23 p.m., August 06, 2006  
Blogger Fence said...

Or maybe they should've spent the money on a big stick to whack people who spit their gum out on the street.

I chew. Almost every day, yet don't remember ever having spat it out on the street. I just don't get people who do.

8:29 p.m., August 07, 2006  
Blogger Curly K said...

Jaysus, Paige, that is a serious amount of thought and number crunching gone into the subject of gum!

12:48 p.m., August 08, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Tax deductable too.

1:52 p.m., August 08, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

FYI. Just before we took on the EU Presidency, the Office of Public Works repaved about 20 metres outside of their St Stephen's Green building. This gives an accurate assessment of the time it takes for gum deposits to assemble. If I get bored and can master linear regression, I might factor time in also. (Beats ranting about the Middle East ;-)(in-joke)) I notice that this newly paved footpath is also defaced with various coffee stains. Might also be time to tax Double Mocha Lattes? An socio-anthropologist would have hours of fun analysing our footpath marks. Remember how at the height of the Celtic Tiger you'd have to step over alcohol-induced sick? Mmm, thems were the days!

3:09 p.m., August 08, 2006  
Blogger -Ann said...

I like Fence's idea of a big stick to whack the gum-droppers. I'd volunteer for that job. In fact, why stop with one big stick. If you take that million euro and reckon you can buy a hurley for 25 euro, that's 40,000 gum-dropper-whackers that you could deputize. That should put a dent in the problem.

I'm going to start with the little feckers who smeared their gum all over all four cross-walk buttons near Thomastown Park. Grrr.

9:16 p.m., August 09, 2006  

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