Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Discover Proven Wrong: One Pencil Can Write a Book

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

biconderoga.jpg

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.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In