A sense of proportion

xkcd – A Webcomic – 1000 Times

I use the above comic to precede a harmless anecdote. The economy is such that corporations are doing things to conserve money. Sometimes misguidedly so.

My company is now trying to save money by doing calibration of a subset of our electronic equipment in-house. It can be done in such a way as to not ruin the measurements of our equipment. I will remain skeptical.

An engineer responsible for the process came up to me with a calibration procedure. “Where can I get a 10^12 Ohm resistor”. I thought he was kidding. “You want a tera ohm? Seriously?, you’re going to have to buy one.” Next logical leap. Connecting resistors in series adds their resistance. “Well, can’t we just make one? What’s the biggest resistor size we have?”. “100 Mega Ohms. Don’t even do it. Just don’t. You will be a laughingstock”. Sometime between getting the idea and putting in an inventory request for 10,000 100 Mohm resistors, they realized how long it would take to solder those together.

Proportion. Scale.