With the new Russell Crowe film 'Noah' at our cinema's, it's about time we delved into the murky World of the Bible and do the maths on Noah's floating zoo.
As the story goes, God told Noah to build an enormous wooden boat and load a male and female of every unclean animal species (7 if they were clean) into it. Then God made it rain, flooding the entire earth with water to swallow up the wicked.
The Bible is quite clear on the make up and dimensions of the ark, it was made of gopher wood and was 300 cubits long (437ft), 50 cubits wide (72ft) and 30 cubits high (43ft) which makes approximately 95,832 square feet of floor space.
According to the Discovery website, there are 7.7 million species of animals on our Planet but as some are water based, we can leave out the fish and whales and squids and such-like which would halve the amount of loading Noah would have to do and the amount of space needed.
Professor Ian Plimer has worked out that the 3 million plus species, using the dimensions given, would have been allocated space of less than a coffee-cup per pair of animals, not counting their food and water requirements.
Then there is the no small matter of collecting and loading a year's supply of the correct kind of food for every single species and keeping the predators separated from each other and from the species they would ordinarily have eaten which must have proven a nightmare task.
To reduce the headache of having to visit different continents to round up the animals, God helpfully forced the animals to Noah but even once aboard, Noah still had the problem of feeding and cleaning up after the animals and as God was busy massacring everyone except Noah and the 7 members of his family, it only left 8 bodies to do the feeding, water and to shovel the poop over the side of the ark.
The Bible describes the rains as lasting 40 days and 40 nights and then the ark bobbed around for another year with Noah and his family avoiding being mauled by the vicious animals or trampled by one of the heavy ones until the floods subsided enough for him to land.
So how did Noah manage to fit all those animals and their food and water into an ark that allowed each pair of animals enough space to put down a coffee cup?
I haven't read the Bible but i assume there must be a mention of an incredible shrinking ray somewhere in it because if not the man who made the birds and the bees and the flowers and trees with such perfect dimensions was a lousy boat builder.