The Google and The Tea Kettle

On Sunday January 11, 2009 The Sunday Times (UK) published an article about a new finding that every Google search contributes (or releases) 7 grams of CO2 to the atmosphere - half the amount produced when heating a tea kettle.

The article said that the claim is backed by the findings of a young physicist named Alex Wissner-Gross .

But within seconds of its publication; the article riled up the media around the globe. Some served the finding with a surprise element while others (in minority) questioned and criticized it; for the article had no scientific evidence to support the claim. Techcrunch who also reported the news, choose to be a harsh critic.

Google too responded, effectively denouncing the claim.

What exactly is said in the article quoting Mr Gross:

Alex Wissner-Gross , according to the article, says “that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea”.

But later it was found out that 'The Google and The Tea Kettle' claim has not come from the research findings of the physicist; and came from some other source.

What Mr Gross, the physicist says in his defense:

--He said he would never refer to any sort of measurement having to do with tea; and although he never made such measurement, if he chooses to do so, he’ll use Coffee and not tea.

--His findings have nothing to do with Google as a company. They are concerned with much more generalized stats, like amount of CO2 produced by a PC when a user looks at a webpage.

--The 7 gram/search figure came from some other source. Although he’s not sure from where.

-He indeed made some vague comments like “A Google search has a definite environmental impact” and “Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power”.

--The article is misleading and when he learned about this; he had contacted the Times—who assured him that the misleading information would be fixed by Sunday morning.

What The Times says in its defense:

--The newspaper says that although it is now found that the Kettle measurement came from a blog post written in 2007 on Rolf Kersten’s Weblog; the newspaper was under the impression that it came from original research conducted by physicist.

--In its bid to salvage its reputation the newspaper, had make public the above info a day later.

And you’ll be surprised to know who wrote the fix to the errata—Mr. Gross, the Physicist.

So in the end, both the newspaper and physicist are found to be at fault--The newspaper for suppressing info for the sake of sensationalism; and the physicist for backing a claim which is not scientifically proven.

The world is going nuts!