How many T cars does that fill?
April 25, 2006 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to express the concept of 500,000 gallons (US liquid, 128 fl. oz.) in terms of the volume of some other container or object. Can you think of a good analogy?

Everything I have come up with so far has either been a little boring (e.g. slightly less than an Olympic size swimming pool) or difficult to understand (the same volume of water that's in all the people sitting in every seat in Fenway Park). What can you come up with? Bonus points for Massachusetts regionality.
posted by nekton to Science & Nature (25 answers total)
The wave pool at Six Flags New England is 500,000 gallons.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:54 PM on April 25, 2006

Also, the water tank at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (aka Otis Air Force Base) is 500,000 gallons. There is a pic in this link.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2006

Simple -- 66,840 cubic feet. So it would completely fill the contents of a 8355 square feet office, or about 5 residential houses (not counting basement and attic).
posted by rolypolyman at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2006

Using this link I get 2,475 cubic yards, which would cover Foxboro stadium field (or any other) end zone to end zone with 13.68 inches of water.
posted by pgoes at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2006

Are you trying to make it seem big or small?
posted by smackfu at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2006

0.07-inches of rain on a quarter acre of land.
Approx 1000 2-liter soda bottles
The amount of water that goes over niagara falls in 0.7 milliseconds.
posted by malp at 1:18 PM on April 25, 2006

Well, I suppose if it's biased toward a direction, I'm trying to make it seem big. It's for a water conservation outreach campaign.
posted by nekton at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2006

oops, I was using 500 gallons, not 500,000 gallons.
posted by malp at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2006

My math may be off, but ...

500,000 US gallons = 64,000,000 US fluid ounces

64,000,000 US fluid ounces = 5333333.3334 cans of beer (12 ounce container)

1 can of beer is about 4 3/4 inches tall

4.75 times 5333333.3334 = 25333333.33365 inches or 399.83165 miles

399.83165 miles is 643.466667 kilometers

So 500,000 US gallons is a stack of beer cans just under 400 miles or just over 643 kilometers high.

Extra points on how tall a pyramid of beer cans of this volume would be...
posted by JigSawMan at 1:22 PM on April 25, 2006

I like the 2-litre bottle idea, because it's an object that most people are familiar with.

However, 1000 2-litre bottles is only 528 gallons.
posted by luneray at 1:23 PM on April 25, 2006

Oh great, there goes my 400 mile stack! :(
posted by JigSawMan at 1:23 PM on April 25, 2006

18.4 inches of rain over 1 acre
100,000 2-liter soda bottles
The amount of water that goes over niagara falls in slightly less than a second (0.7 seconds)
posted by malp at 1:24 PM on April 25, 2006

500,000 gallons is...

167 small fuel tank trucks (the kind that deliver heating oil)

38 "18-wheeler" tank trucks

1 olympic-sized swimming pool (actually 550,000 gallons)

0.01 VLCC-class supertanker (44 billion gallons)
posted by bonehead at 1:28 PM on April 25, 2006

I couldn't find a great picture, but you might be able to.

Discovery Bay has a 500,000 gallon dolphin pool.
posted by oddman at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2006

500,000 gallons of water weighs 2,000 tons.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:50 PM on April 25, 2006

Depending whether you're using a tetrahedral (triangular-based) pyramid or a square pyramid, your equations are:
P(n) = ((n^2+n)(2n+1))/6
But, you want the height of the pyramid, so plug in 5333333 for P(n) and find the roots...
A tetrahedral pyramid containing at least 5333333 beer cans would be 317 layers tall, or 125.48 feet (38.25m).
A sqare-based pyramid containing at least 5333333 beer cans would be 252 layers tall, or 99.75 feet (30.40m).
I hereby claim my extra points.

Pyramids aren't nearly as fun as stacks anyway. Enough beers to get the entire city of Atlanta sloshed should be taller than 125 feet.
posted by leapfrog at 1:51 PM on April 25, 2006

Well, for arguments sake let's say the average person uses 50 gals per day (about right). 500,000 gals could keep you going for almost 28 years.
posted by unSane at 1:53 PM on April 25, 2006

A half-million (US) gallons of water would submerge a (US) football field (including end zones) in just under 14 inches of water. GO PATS!
posted by letourneau at 2:01 PM on April 25, 2006

I was trying to think of how big of a sculpture you could make with 500,000 gallons of jello, but I confused myself very quickly. In my head, it seems like you should be able to cast the state capital in Jello, if the inside is hollow.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:34 PM on April 25, 2006

16 tractor-trailers, roughly. (based on FedEx's truck cargo area data - 53' trailer, which I think is the standard big trailer). I tried to think of something comparable to a T car but more meaningful to someone who doesn't take the T everyday.
posted by TimeFactor at 3:02 PM on April 25, 2006

well, 30 mL/s is a typical urination rate, i gather. that means it'd take one 730 days to whiz out that amount. that's just over 2 years non-stop!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:27 PM on April 25, 2006

Apologies in advance for any offense caused:

1) According to the US Census, in 2004 there were about 2,540,000 women in the Bay State above the age of 18; and
2) if each of these women decided to get (two) breast implants, and each implant was filled with about 370cc of liquid (NSFW); then
3) the total volume of the improvement enhancement increase converted from cm³ to US gallons would be approximately ...
4) 500,000 gallons!!
posted by rob511 at 4:39 PM on April 25, 2006

500,000 gallons is about 1.9 billion milliliters. There are about 650 million males in China. Average ejaculate volume is about 3 milliliters. 650 million times 3 is about 1.9 billion. There you go.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:21 PM on April 25, 2006

2 1/2 times the size of the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium.

I'm amazed no one else thought of that.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:09 PM on April 25, 2006

I think bonehead meant 44 million gallons in a supertanker. An ordinary supertanker carries something like 250,000 deadweight tons, or two million barrels, or (since there are 42 gallons in a barrel) 80 million gallons. The estimate of 500,000 gallons being about one percent of a supertanker is a good one, if a supertanker carries 50 million gallons.
posted by cgc373 at 7:31 AM on April 26, 2006

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