We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Discover Proven Wrong: One Pencil Can Write a Book

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)
Jun 13, 2007 1:10 AMNov 5, 2019 8:42 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In "20 Things You Didn't Know About... Pencils," we asserted that "the average pencil holds enough graphite to draw a line about 35 miles long or to write roughly 45,000 words. History does not record anyone testing this statistic." That claim is now—as Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler would say—"inoperative."

Keith Eldred organized a group of volunteers working around the clock at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to transcribe the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird with one standard-issue Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. (Actually, for part of the transcription it wasn't exactly "standard issue": when the pencil got too short to hold, the plucky transcribers lashed it to a wooden splint and taped that to a flat-nosed, unused pencil, thus forming the "Bi-conderoga." Somewhere, Richard Dean Anderson is clapping.)

After one month and 100,000 words, the volunteers finally finished. Eldred recently took a victory lap on NPR.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.