How long isn’t the Rhine river?

Something doesn’t add up, as they say, with the Rhine River. Earth Times reports:

Reports of Rhine’s length exaggerated and erroneous, academic finds

Cologne, Germany – Most of the world’s encyclopaedias and textbooks are misstating the length of Europe’s Rhine river after somebody accidentally added 90 kilometres about half a century ago, an observant academic has discovered.

Instead of checking the data with an authoritative source, all the books have copied one another, according to Bruno Kremer, a biologist at Cologne University quoted Saturday by the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Most current textbooks say the river is 1,320 kilometres long, but in the first half of the 20th century, books said it was 1,230 kilometres long. “It was a probably just a stupid garble,” said Kremer.

“The number in modern reference works is downright wrong,” he said. “Around about 1960 someone transposed 1,230 to 1,320.” He said the error’s wide circulation suggested a lot of plagiarism.

(Thanks to investigator Rose Fox for alerting us to this. Investigator Fox says “I’m sure there’s a penis joke in here somewhere.”)

Improbable Research