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Fermi Estimation

How many stoplights are in your city? How many golf balls does it take to fill a plane? These seemingly un-answerable questions can be estimated surprisingly accurately using some clever techniques.

Fermi Estimates Economics Applications


If one person who earns $50,000 per year puts every dollar they earn toward the American federal debt of 19 trillion dollars, how many years will it take to pay the debt?

Which value is the most reasonable estimate of the volume of air an adult breathes in one day?

Hint: Think about how much air a person will blow into a balloon with an average breath.

Approximately how many movies are watched in homes in the United States in one year?

How many balloons would be required to fill the Empire State Building, which is about 100 stories tall?

It's your lucky day! You have been given $1,000,000 in $1 bills, but can only take the bills that will fit into your suitcase. In order to determine how much money you get to take home with you, you will probably need to estimate all of the following quantities EXCEPT:


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