If hyperbolic metaphors were true…

This post manages to be both amusing and informative at the same time.

Matthew Wright

Today I thought I’d examine a couple of hyperbolic metaphors on the basis of their being literally true and see where that got me, scientifically. I mean, what is a hyperbolic metaphor worth if science can’t say something about it, really? Check this out.

‘Enough food to sink a battleship’

How much food would sink a battleship? We have to suppose it
means enough food to overload the vessel until it sinks, but that doesn’t
define a figure because battleships have been built to all sorts of displacements, from
the 10,000-ton British jobs of the late nineteenth century through to the
70,000-ton Japanese monsters of the Second World War. Obviously the weight
needed to sink one will vary.

HMS Camperdown, a British battleship of about 10,000 tons launched in 1885. Picture via Shipbucket, by DarthPanda, CC Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license.

What’s less obvious is that even if we defined a

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