Answering Paul Kelly’s “how many?” questions

I like this song by Paul Kelly, called “Careless.” It’s embedded below:

He asks a few questions in the song, and I’ve got the answers.

How many cabs in New York City?

There are 13,237 taxis regulated by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

How many angels on a pin?

I think the answer to this is pretty conclusively between one and 30 vigintillion.

How many notes in a saxophone?

This one’s a bit tougher. These days, the standard accepted range for saxophone is between a B♭ below the treble clef to an F♯ above it. That’s about two and a half octaves, or a total of 32 notes. ((The glib answer, of course, is that there are twelve notes, repeated in various octaves.)) It’s possible, if a bit convoluted, to play a low A and a high G, so we can add two for a total of 34 notes.

How many tears in a bottle of gin?

Assuming an average bottle size of 750 mL, and an average tear size of 6.2 µl (as per the research of S. Mishima, A. Gasset, S. D. Klyce, Jr., and J. L. Baum [pdf]), a bottle of gin could fit 121,000 tears. I don’t know why you’d want to do that, though.


  1. Posted 3 September, 2012 at 07:39 | Permalink

    Small correction to the number of taxis in NYc……it’s actually 13,237. Have a great day!

    • Parker Higgins
      Posted 3 September, 2012 at 08:39 | Permalink

      Thanks for the comment — I guess I just transposed those two digits because it was a little late. In any case, it’s correct now!

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