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Fuel the World

A series of high energy experiences.

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A world without energy flows is a world where nothing happens. Living creatures require tremendous energy dissipation to keep avoid decaying into piles of matter. In "Fuel the World", we investigate the modes of energy harvest and utilization by inhabitants of planet Earth, including solar energy, nuclear power, and exotic sources for our descendants—the Milky Way itself.

We'll start with simple estimates about the scale of the problems, like this:

Assume we can harvest all the Solar energy incident upon the Earth. How many hours would it take to collect the energy Earth would use in 1 year?

And by the end, you'll be able to answer questions like this:

What fraction of its own mass does an animal have to consume each day to stay alive?

In the process, we'll learn a number of powerful concepts such as

  • Fermi estimation
  • Scaling arguments
  • Geometric reasoning
  • Coarse graining

Master the problem solving skills of Physics of the Everyday.

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