The London edition of Metro featured the following table:
It lists five endeavours that lasted 11 years and 9 months or maybe less. Among these, Alexander the Great conquered the world and Fermat’s last theorem was solved.
First, let’s focus on a couple of inaccuracies: Alexander did not conquer the world, far from it (ask a Chinese or Balinese) and that Fermat posited his last theorem in 1637.
The main obfuscation here, is that these endeavours do not have anything to do with one another and do not prove anything. For instance, why not include the fact that Apollo 13 went to the moon and back in less than 6 days?
A more common version of this is to compare corporations with countries. Specifically, corporation revenues and countries GDP. Again, these comparisons have no merit.
Corporations for instance do not have to provide many of the services that countries do. Corporations aim at maximising shareholder’s returns and in general making money. Countries and governments, work with budgets and try to balance them.
Furthermore, corporations can easily call it quits, they can sometimes go into bankruptcy, fire a lot of employees, sell assets, change name and start almost from scratch. Countries, tend not to disappear so easily and even if they do (from Soviet Union to Russia), the new country cannot fire former citizens.
25 US Mega Corporations: Where They Rank If They Were Countries
Read the list at Business Insider.
This is not to argue that countries are more virtuous than corporations or vice versa, but rather, that each should be compared and assessed within a peer group; e.g. Scandinavian countries with one another, same for search engines such as YAHOO and Google.