I love conferences (okay IWMW 2006 wasn’t a conference it was a workshop!) where you come away with little facts like the ratio of the long side of a sheet of A4 paper to the short side is 1:1.4142, which is 1:√2 (one to the square root of two).
A4 paper is genius! It’s an international standard (if someone could please tell the Americans, with their Letter size nonsense!) defined by ISO 216.
Here is what the lovely Wikipedia has to say on the matter of ISO A4:
A4 is a standard paper size, defined by the international standard ISO 216 as 210—297 mm (roughly 8.27—11.69 in). It is the normal size of paper for both domestic and business purposes in all countries except the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Chile and other American countries. See paper size standards in North America.
An A4 sheet cut in half along the long side produces two A5 sheets. An A3 sheet is double the area of an A4. All the A paper sizes are similar to each other. The ratio between the long side and short side is the square root of 2 (i.e. the short side * √2 (which is approximately 1.414)). This ratio remains the same when the sheet is cut in half along the long side.
But does it stop there? No siree. Look, there’s a whole page about other paper sizes, like A0, A1, A2, A3, A5, A6, A7 and A8. And it’s not just A4 that has that groovy 1:1.4142 ratio, they all do! Wikipedia again:
ISO paper sizes are all based on a single aspect ratio of the square root of two, or approximately 1:1.4142. Basing paper upon this ratio was conceived by the German scientist Georg Lichtenberg in 1786
Just thought I’d share that with you…