Bubble Contest: Win a Book

The first commenter here to correctly guess (within 2,000) the number of telegraph miles in the U.S. in 1852 wins a snail-mail copy of Dan Gross’s soon-to-be published book Pop! Why Bubbles are Great for the Economy. A hint: There were 2,000 miles of telegraph in 1846, six years earlier.


  1. 22000

  2. 16,735

  3. 23,000

  4. Whoa, we have a winner already. “G” you’re it. Email me contact information at the email address on top left, and the book is yours.

  5. G stands for what?
    Google this:
    | number telegraph miles U.S. 1852 |
    It will return the answer in the first result, no need to click on the link. Not surprising the first respondent won the prize. :)
    One of the telegraph’s most important functions in 1852 was preventing railroad wrecks, which peaked in 1856.

  6. David K. above might need a copy too, as I’ve found numerous sources citing a figure of 23,000 miles in 1852. Not sure what the sources of the sources are though. And to toot my own horn, I too predicted a potential alternative energy bubble right here in the Comments of Infectious Greed in an exchange with Andi a month or more ago, so you KNOW it’s going to happen!

  7. 23,500 — and “The Victorian Internet” was indeed a fun read…

  8. At that rate of increase it probably was 22,000 in early 1852 and 23,500 later that year. Though it’s doubtful a truly accurate count was kept.

  9. Did you do a Google search before posting this?
    The first result is a Wired article that says, “Between 1848 and 1852, the number of telegraph miles in the US jumped from 2,000 to 23,000.”

  10. The Google wins again!

  11. Google wins every contest, and Anonymous posts on every blog and bulletin board.
    They’re unstoppable!

  12. agent00yak says:

    The 4th hit on google or so (Paul’s post is now first, ironically) is a Wired article by Daniel Gross.
    If his book is an extension of that article it seems that it will be one long confused ramble about “what is seen” while leaving out “what is not seen”. You can measure the telegraph miles, and compared against a few businesses going bankrupt later it seems like a good deal. However, does he compare it to the other factories that money could have built? The other research the capital could have funded? I would be surprised if he did.
    It is an interesting subject. Bubbles may be the optimal way to quickly create new economies of scale and therefore are needed for certain types of industries to progress. Then again, maybe not.

  13. >>> …the other factories that money could have built? The other research the capital could have funded?
    But that presumes clairvoyance on the part of investors and researchers. Bubbles form because it is the very people with resources that chase them. As inefficient as bubbles may be they still beat central planning by a country mile and clairvoyance by light years.
    Some lessons are only learned the hard way. As life spans lengthen there will investors with greater sagacity and that is the only way future bubbles will be mitigated. And there will always be lessons to be learned through bubble pain.

  14. Estarkappasse says:

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