It’s been over 200 years since President John Adams signed the first weights and measures law in the United States. This makes Governor Jared Polis’s proclamation declaring March 1-7 “Weights and Measures Week” in Colorado either long overdue, or a nostalgic throwback to a time when presidents did things other than tweeting and taking the word of foreign despots seriously. Yes, things have changed over the years — but pounds and feet and inches, not so much.
In honor of Polis’s celebratory week, we're sharing ten of our favorite homegrown statistics. How does Colorado measure up?
How much gold is on the Capitol dome?
Looking up at the dome of the State Capitol, we're reminded of this state's Gold Rush origins. But the dome doesn't lay it on too thick: Its commemoration of Colorado's rich, gold tradition is just millimeters thick. Most of the base is copper, because, come on, you didn’t think all that was gold, did you? How much gold is actually on the dome is a little vague, but we do know that 75 ounces were added in the relatively recent refurbishing, with a 10-ounce ingot held back for repairs. That gold (in leaf form) was valued at $116 million in 2013 dollars.
What is Colorado's highest point?
As Colorado elevations go, Denver’s “Mile High” appellation isn’t much of a boast. Mount Elbert is the state’s highest peak, measuring 14,440 feet — and that’s only one of the 53 “Fourteeners” out there, waiting to be conquered by those who like that sort of thing. Colorado’s official motto is Nil sine numine, which translates to “Nothing Without Providence.” (How very Manifest Destiny of us. Thanks, nineteenth century!) But really, our state motto should be: “No, seriously…stay hydrated.”
Okay, then, what’s Colorado's lowest elevation?
Yuma County’s Arikaree River is the lowest point in Colorado, at 3,315 feet. This is actually the highest low point of any state in the nation; our lowest point is higher than the highest elevation of eighteen of the other states. Although we didn't have anything to do with that stat, hey, we’re Broncos fans. We’ll take the wins where we find them.
What’s the temperature at which water boils at a mile high?
Don’t believe everything in your fifth-grade science book: It was probably written elsewhere. You probably learned that the boiling point of water is 212 degrees; here in Denver, it’s closer to 203 degrees — at our altitude, water boils faster. Cool, right? Sure, but food scientists will tell you that 203 degrees may in fact not be hot enough to actually cook food, so the process of boiling water for cooking may take longer. Yes, waiting is a pain, but the wait here is nothing compared to, say, Mount Everest, where the boiling point of water is down around 160 degrees. But by the time you’re done waiting for the water to boil up there so you can make pasta, you’d be frozen to death anyway. Circle of life.
How many gallons of water are in the waterfall and lagoon at Casa Bonita?
The eatertainment landmark (a historic site, thanks to a Lakewood decree and its South Park pop-culture pedigree) pumps over 26 million gallons of water through its system every year. The waterfall itself was designed to resemble the cliffs of Acapulco and are thirty feet high. Divers plunge from that height into the fourteen-foot-deep pools, to entertain and take visitors’ minds off the price tag on that terrible taco.
How many pounds of pot are sold annually in Colorado?
According to the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, 665,134 pounds of legal marijuana were sold in Colorado in 2017. That amounted to over $1.5 billion in total earnings for said bud. The numbers for 2018 are even higher, marking the fifth year of significant growth in the industry. Sources close to the data have been reluctant to expand on the reports, though their reaction is probably something along the lines of “Whooooaaaaaaa, dude.”
How much warmer is Colorado than it once was?
The president’s new nominee for United Nations ambassador might believe in “both sides of the science” when it comes to climate change — but there’s really only one side to the science, Ms. Craft. The other side is anti-science, or what we used to refer to as “ignorance.” In any case, studies have shown that Colorado has very clearly warmed in the past forty years — by two full degrees, to be exact. Two degrees might not seem like much, but that’s only an average, and it’s already playing havoc with our statewide livability (remember when air-conditioning in your car or home was optional?) as well as our tourism base. (Before there was marijuana, it was all about the powder. The skiing kind, not the Bolivian marching kind.)
What’s the weight of the average Chipotle burrito?
How much have you been putting in your belly when you have that urge for some barbacoa, rice with cilantro and lime, a scoop of black beans, a sprinkle of tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of cheese, tomato and lettuce all wrapped up in a big, cozy flour tortilla blanket? Half a pound? More. A pound? More. Pound and a quarter? Keep going. According to a fan’s unscientific weigh-in of exactly the burrito listed above, it tips the scale at almost one and a half pounds of deliciousness. And that’s skipping the guacamole. Don’t even ask about the queso.
What are the comparative heights of the Big Blue Bear and Blucifer?
You know, just in case there's a Colorado Deathmatch…which cerulean colossus will emerge from the melee victorious? Blucifer (real name: "Mustang") is 32 feet, and rearing back — he’s at his full demonic height. The Big Blue Bear (real name: "I See What You Mean") comes in at 40 feet, and he’s sort of hunched over, peering into the windows of the Colorado Convention Center, so if he stood up straight, he’d probably tower over the steed from the netherworld. Sure, Blucifer probably has some sort of nightmarish eldritch power at his disposal— that’s hellfire in his eyes, kids! — but the Big Blue Bear is big and burly, and can probably withstand a good amount of punishment. We give the odds to the ursine in this match-up, as the Big Blue Bear hugs the evil right out of the Stallion of Doom.
10. What’s the measure of this holiday week — and this article — relative to the dumpster-fire issues facing America?
Pretty much weightless.
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