Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Google and the Tea Kettle: Physicist Sets the Record Straight

Remember that reseach study which said two Google searches and boiling water for tea, being the same in terms of CO2 production? While it gave Google's PR division into overdrive on Sunday, it turns out that Google isn't even mentioned in the actual study study!

Harvard University physicist Alex Wissner-Gross told TechNewsWorld:
"For some reason, in their story on the study, the Times had an ax to grind with Google. Our work has nothing to do with Google. Our focus was exclusively on the Web overall, and we found that it takes on average about 20 milligrams of CO2 per second to visit a Web site."

And the example involving tea kettles? "They did that. I have no idea where they got those statistics."
To be honest, I said I didn't necessarily believe the numbers, but was in favor of highlighting the fact that even the smallest things we do affect CO2 production (any electricity used produces CO2, yada, yada).

However, adding a statement that's totally fictitious? That's over the line. In fact, according to Google spokesperson Jamie Yood, the Times Online interviewed a Google engineer for the story, one "whose job is to look at data centers to make sure they're more energy efficient, and he didn't really use any of his material.

I'm going to have to start watching these Times Online stories more closely. This isn't the first time a tech story by them has proven false. You might recall their story in late November regarding a complex deal between Microsoft and Yahoo!, with Microsoft managing the Yahoo! search biz.

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