UKTC Archive

[qtra-users] Going Nuts

Subject: [qtra-users] Going Nuts
From: Jon Heuch
Date: Feb 15 2012 08:25:12
That’s why coconuts are good because the size of the fruit is similar and 
they kill so few people


That’s an interesting line: google coconuts kill more people than shark 


Even: The news follows reports from Queensland, Australia, that coconut trees 
are being uprooted by
local councils fearful of being sued for damages by people injured by 
coconuts. …


Dr. Peter Barss in the Journal of Trauma entitled "Injuries Due to Falling 
Coconuts." (The article
received an Ig Nobel Prize, given annually at Harvard by the editors of the 
Annals of Improbable
Research in recognition of research that "cannot or should not be 
replicated." The award was
presented in 2001, notwithstanding that the paper had been published in 1984. 
Apparently news takes
a while to filter through to Cambridge.) The article soberly reported on nine 
injuries in Papua New
Guinea due to falling coconuts, none fatal. Barss notes that a coconut palm 
tree commonly reaches 25
meters in height, that a coconut can weigh two kilograms or more, and that a 
two-kilogram coconut
falling 25 meters would have a velocity of 80 kilometers per hour on impact 
and a force of as much
as 1,000 kilograms. Several victims suffered fractured skulls, were rendered 
comatose, etc.


So people have actually been looking at this problem:


Mulford et al, "Coconut Palm-Related Injuries in the Pacific Islands,"ANZ 
Journal of Surgery,
January 2001




According to Wikipedia, 54 million tonnes of  
<> coconuts were
produced in 2009. From this, we know that if each coconut weighs 10 lbs, then 
roughly 1.0×1010
coconuts were produced. Now, we could quibble about the actual number. Some 
grow in the wild which
might make the actual number larger. Some coconuts are picked instead of 
falling, so that might make
the actual number smaller. You can argue either way, so let’s stick with this 
figure just to keep
the problem relatively simple.

There are 6.7×109 people in the world, each of which has about 1.5 ft2 of 
area that the coconut
could land on giving a total area of about 1.0×1010 ft2.  According to 
Wikipedia, the total land
area in the world is about 1.5×108 km2.  If people are randomly distributed 
across the land area of
Earth, then the probability of being hit by a coconut is equal to the 
fraction of land area that
people take up at any given time.  Using Google’s calculator, we get………




The White House takes this seriously however:


Workers in  <> India cut down all the
<> coconuts 
from scores of coconut
trees near  
<> Mumbai's
Gandhi museum ahead of
President Barack Obama's
November 2010. Those in charge of security for Obama worried the coconuts 
would fall and hit the
leader of the free world smack on the noggin.


But let’s keep things in perspective:


No mention of trees anywhere! I love the first comment: “when hippos team up 
with vending
machines….”. The mind boggles!


The reality is that coconuts grow in developing countries for the most part; 
Coconuts also grow in
rural areas; statistical collection in developing countries is not very 
comprehensive……leaving us
lots of room to speculate at how many people get killed by coconuts falling; 
how many people fall
off coconut trees when climbing; how many people get knocked off the coconut 
tree by falling
coconuts whilst climbing the tree to harvest coconuts; how many people on the 
ground get killed
after the climber has cut off the coconuts etc etc              Life is 
pretty valueless in many
parts of developing countries and deaths don’t get recorded or investigated. 
I’m just glad that when
I put my sunlounger under the palm tree beside the pool the nuts are either 
non existent or have
been put in a carefully located net.




 Jon Heuch Tel:          +44 (0)1233 XXX XXX Mob:    +44 (0)7810 XXX XXX


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