I've asked about it repeatedly on Wikipedia's talk page for the article about Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A space odyssey, but had no reply (I have also mentioned it on the talk page for the french article, where at least someone chimed in, but it's even less likely to get a conclusive answer there). Is there a known inconsistency in the original text regarding the monolith's measurements, and the peculiar 1 : 4 : 9 ratio that they are supposed to match perfectly ?
I am french, I don't have access to the actual book in original english, but in all the electronic versions of the original I could find there's this sentence : “The monolith was 11 feet high, and 11/4 by 5 feet in cross-section.” Then it goes : “When its dimensions were checked with great care, they were found to be in the exact ratio 1 to 4 to 9.” And yet these measurements do not verify the 1 : 4 : 9 ratio at all ! They would approximately verify it with 11/9 instead of 11/4. The french translation is closer, surprisingly, although not nearly close enough, especially since it mistakenly adds that the measurements given in that sentence are “exact”, whereas only the ratio is said to be exact in the next sentence from the original (which makes sense, as the unit used for measuring lengths is arbitrary, based on historical choices which could have been different and couldn't have been anticipated even by the almighty extraterrestrial intelligence that designed the monolith — especially those weird units used in english speaking countries ! :^p —, whereas the ratio between dimensions is a purely mathematical notion which could indeed have some sort of universal significance).
The french text goes : “The monolith was indeed exactly 3 meters high, by 1.50 meters wide and 35 centimeters of thickness.” That's a ratio of 1.05 : 4.50 : 9.
So, is this a factual error in the novel, or an OCR / transcript mistake ?
As a side note, the english Wikipedia article mentions another inconsistency regarding the monolith(s), but between the novel and the movie : “While it is stated in the book that the ratio of the dimensions of the monolith are supposed to be 1 : 4 : 9 (1² : 2² : 3²), the shape of the actual monolith seen in the movie does not conform to this ratio. A ratio of 1 : 4 : 9 would produce an object that appears thick, wide, and squat. Kubrick wanted something taller and thinner, which he felt would be more imposing. Measurements taken from movie frames show that the movie monolith has dimensions approximately in the ratio 0.65 : 4 : 9 or 1 : 6 : 14.”
That paragraph was flagged as “original research” ; is there a consensus on that matter, and are there quality sources which could properly back up that assertion ?