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BMJ. Apr 14, 2001; 322(7291): 931.
PMCID: PMC1120087

Apples and oranges have previously been shown to be remarkably similar

Marc Abrahams, editor, Annals of Improbable Research

Editor—Barone's short randomised prospective study comparing apples and oranges is a fresh example of a scientist unknowingly rediscovering something that has been reported previously.1 In this case, the earlier investigation was done with more depth, more rigour, and, most importantly, more expensive equipment. The Annals of Improbable Research published Sandford's report comparing apples and oranges in 1995.2 Sandford did a spectrographic analysis of ground, dessicated samples of a Granny Smith apple and a Sunkist navel orange.

The dried samples were mixed with potassium bromide and ground in a small ballbearing mill for two minutes. Samples (100 mg) of each of the resulting powders were then pressed into a circular pellet, having a diameter of 1 cm and a thickness of approximately 1 mm. Spectra were taken at a resolution of 1 cm-1 with a Nicolet 740 FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectrometer. The figure shows the 4000-400 cm-1 (2.5-25 mm) infrared transmission spectra of the two fruits.

Sandford thus showed not only that apples and oranges can be compared but also that they are remarkably similar.

Transmission spectra of apple and orange.2 Reproduced with permission


1. Barone JE. Comparing apples and oranges: a randomised prospective study. BMJ. 2000;321:1569–1570. . (23-30 December.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Sandford S. Apples and oranges: a comparison. Annals of Improbable Research 1995;1(3). www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/air-1-3-apples.html (accessed 13 Mar 2001).

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