17 stories
·
0 followers

Pyramid Energy

2 Comments and 7 Shares

Pyramid Energy

What took more energy, the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Apollo Mission? If we could convert the energy to build the Great Pyramid, would it be enough to send a rocket to the Moon and back?

Michael Marmol

No.

A Saturn V's fuel contains enough stored energy to lift up and stack about 20 pyramids worth of rock from the surface.

That's the simple physicist-style answer, based on calculating the energy required to lift idealized blocks of stone against the Earth's gravity.[1]Assume a spherical pyramid in a vacuum ... In practice, pyramid construction wasn't so simple. Thanks to friction, the Egyptians probably expended more energy dragging the stones across the ground than lifting them upward—and the "lifting upward" involved a lot of friction, too.

Most of the energy they expended was lost to the heat of friction, but about 1012 joules of it remains in the Great Pyramid, stored as gravitational potential energy. If all this energy were liberated and—somehow—used to accelerate an Apollo spacecraft ...

... it wouldn't be enough to launch it to the Moon.

On the other hand, the reverse probably wouldn't work, either.

But maybe we're making the wrong kind of comparison. Why did Michael—like many others—compare the pyramids to the Apollo program in the first place? Perhaps it's simply that they both look like they took a huge amount of work—and maybe that's the best way to compare them.

The Great Pyramid, according to one analysis, took an average of 13,200 people 10 years to construct. The Apollo project took an average of about 200,000 people, working over a similar period of time, to launch six Moon landings and another 6-10 missions using the same equipment before and after—which, if you divided it up equally,[2]Which is a bit of a stretch, since launching a second Apollo mission probably lets you reuse a lot more of your work on the first one than building a second pyramid. is about 15,000 hours each. In other words, each Apollo mission took about the same amount of work as each pyramid.[3]The Apollo program was unpopular at the time; people thought it was a waste of money. While it's easy to remember only the excited children gathered around TVs to watch the first Moon landing, the truth is, spending public money on space exploration has never been all that popular with the general public. For all we know, the pyramids were just as unpopular with the Egyptian public in their time. They probably weren't built by slaves, but that doesn't mean everyone was happy about them.

There are all kinds of ways we could measure the energy that went into various megaprojects, but we end up making a lot of subjective judgment calls about what counts as part of the project. Instead, let's go back to the simple idea of gravitational potential energy, and see how the Great Pyramid compares to other structures by that measure.

The gravitational energy locked up in the Great Pyramid—on the order of 1012 joules—is more than in even the biggest modern skyscrapers. The Burj Khalifa may be huge, but it's mostly empty space. Egyptian pyramids, on the other hand, are solid rock nearly all the way through.

However, the Great Pyramid isn't the human structure with the highest "gravitational potential energy" score. The Three Gorges Dam, built across the Yangtze River in China, is both taller and heavier than the Great Pyramid. It contains an order of magnitude more potential energy than the pyramid in its concrete and steel alone—without even considering the far larger potential energy of the water behind it.

The Great Pyramid has a few other big competitors. The former Fresh Kills Landfill probably had more gravitational potential energy, as do various other giant dams. The Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico has a larger volume than the pyramid at Giza, though probably weighs slightly less and has less potential energy.

But these are all dwarfed by our biggest rock-and-dirt-lifting projects: mines. Mining involves lifting even more matter against gravity than building concrete dams, pyramids, or landfills. Humans have put a huge amount of industrial power into digging mines, so it's no surprise that the biggest mines involve 1014 to 1015 joules of gravitational energy—orders of magnitude more than the biggest aboveground structures. After all, open-pit mines are basically reverse pyramids:

These projects are pretty big. However, the Dutch have envisioned something bigger.

In 2011, a Dutch writer launched Die berg komt er, a semi-serious plan to build an artificial mountain in the Netherlands. Some versions of the plan would involve moving far more material than in even the largest mines, and the immense weight would probably cause the Dutch countryside to sink—which isn't really something they need more of.[4]For this reason, most serious proposals involve a hollow mountain. I mean, serious compared to the other ones.

This plan is obviously impractical. Fortunately, someone else has come up with a better one.

A group of Germans, led by architect Jakob Tigges, have decided that Berlin already has an artificial mountain. Built on the site of the former Tempelhof Airport, "The Berg" towers 1,071 meters above the surrounding landscape, edging out the Burj Khalifa as the tallest manmade structure on Earth. It has a website, a Facebook group, photos, testimonials, and tourism information.

Now, nobody can see this mountain. But supporters insist that it's there.

If only the Egyptians had thought of that one.

Read the whole story
CliffS
2392 days ago
reply
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
supine
2385 days ago
reply
Not sure why the sign is in Dutch but the fine print is in German. Am I missing a subtle Randall joke?
An Aussie living in Frankfurt
rclatterbuck
2398 days ago
reply
!
Askew
2398 days ago
You make a very interesting comment
rclatterbuck
2398 days ago
Didn't have much to say about it, but I figured someone else might, and comments can't be made unless the original sharer posts a comment.
Askew
2396 days ago
Not sure what you mean, When you share the story on your blurblog anyone with a newsblur account can comment, regardless if you make an initial comment or not
rclatterbuck
2396 days ago
If that is the case now, it was not always so, and I continue to have ingrained habits when sharing posts.

The first Heartbleed hacker has been arrested

1 Comment

Canadian officials say they've tracked down the man responsible reponsible for thelast week's Heartbleed-assisted breach at the Canadian Revenue Agency, which compromised the personal data of more than 900 citizens. According to The Calgary Herald, 19-year-old Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes from London, Ontario has been officially charged with the attack after five days of investigation. The official charges are "unauthorized use of a computer" and "mischief in relation to data."

Continue reading…

Read the whole story
CliffS
2419 days ago
reply
"Mischief in relation to data?" I'm guilty of that daily!
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Share this story
Delete

What Could You Buy With $241 Trillion?

1 Share

What would happen if you sold everything you own, liquidated any investments you have, paid off all of your debts, and withdrew whatever cash you have in bank accounts?

You’d be standing on the street naked, with nowhere to go, holding a bunch of cash, and people would be looking at you.

holding all your net worth

And whatever cash you were holding would be your net worth.

Okay now, imagine that everyone else in the world does that too (just pretend that makes sense), and all the people of the world, naked and holding their wealth in cash, come together and throw their wealth into a big pile together. How much money would be in that pile?

$241,000,000,000,000.

The combined wealth of all the people of the world is $241 trillion.1

So at this point, the whole human race would be standing there together, all naked, all broke, looking at a massive pile of cash.

The world's wealth in hundreds

Okay, so we’re all in a bit of an odd situation here. Let’s start by organizing the pile, converting it all into $100 bills and making a huge stack of them.

stack of bills to the moon

One hundred $100 bills ($10,000) makes a 1.09cm-thick stack, so a million dollars stacked is a little over a meter, a billion dollars is a little over a kilometer, and $241 trillion makes a 262,000km-high stack, which reaches 68% of the way to the moon.

Bills to the moon

Now let’s spread the all those bills out on the ground in a single layer. The area of a bill is 103cm2, so 2.41 trillion of them would just about cover Vermont.

Bills covering Vermont

And converting them all to $1 bills, 241 trillion $1 bills would cover Algeria.

Bills covering Algeria

Okay enough bills. Let’s try gold. If you took all the gold ever mined in the world and melted it down into a cube, it would have a side of 20.7 meters(and be worth $8.6 trillion).2

All the gold ever mined

Kind of surprisingly small, right? Well how big would the gold cube be if we had enough gold to represent all $241 trillion of the world’s wealth?

It would be a cube with sides of about 63 meters.

All the world's wealth in gold

So that cube is what we’re all working with here. And if the world’s wealth were distributed completely evenly and every adult human had an even share, everyone would have $51,600, or this much gold:

If wealth were divided evenly

But wealth isn’t evenly distributed. Let’s look at what the world’s wealthiest 1% of people have versus the other 99% of people?

1 percent guy has 46% of wealth

How about the top 10%?

10 percent of people have 86 percent of wealth

To further demonstrate just how uneven wealth distribution actually is, let’s bring out some of the world’s richest billionaires.3

billionaires come out

World's richest people

Who the hell is Amancio Ortega? I don’t know who you are, please leave.

Sad Ortega

So Credit Suisse came out with a report recently that revealed that the combined wealth of the bottom half of humanity—3.5 billion people—has people—is less than 1% of the world’s total wealth. And starting from the top, it only takes the combined wealth of the richest 85 people to equal the wealth of the bottom 3.5 billion people.

World's richest and poorest

To put that in perspective, 85 is 1/84 millionth of the world population. So if one jellybean represents 85 people, the human race could be represented with 84 million jellybeans, which would just about fill 2 five-meter-high cubes:

The richest 85 people

So the richest jellybean in the rich-half box has the same wealth asthe entire poor-half box combined:

Richest jellybean

To further explore the kind of wealth these 85 people have, let’s take Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest of this group of 85 people that makes up the richest jellybean.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark is worth just about $30 billion. 1,074 cubic cm is about $1 million of gold. This amount of gold can be made into a big gold coin with a diameter of 26cm (about a foot) and a thickness of 2cm (about an inch). Mark Zuckerberg’s $30 billion can be converted into 30,000 of these million-dollar gold coins:

Mark Zuckerberg's Wealth

To help us appreciate how much money that is, think about this: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, cost $1.5 billion to build. That’s what Mark Zuckerberg makes each year off the interest on his wealth (if he made 5% in interest)—enough to build a new Burj Khalifa each year without denting into his wealth.

Another way to look at it is by understanding how vastly richer a billionaire is than a millionaire. To help demonstrate this point, let’s bring Alex Rodriguez into the discussion, Alex Rodriguez, who is worth $300 million—right around the same level as the richest movie stars. And A-Rod’s wealth amounts to only 1% of Mark Zuckerberg’s.

A-Rod vs Zuckerberg

How about someone lower down in the wealthiest 1% group—a lesser millionaire? A rich lawyer might have a net worth of $3 million, which is 1% of what A-Rod has.

A-Rod's Wealth
The rich lawyer is rich by almost anyone’s standards, but he has nothing compared to A-Rod (1/100th) or Mark Zuckerberg (1/10,000th). Still, because he’s part of the wealthiest 1% of both the world and the US5, we routinely group these three people together in the “1%” category. Categorizing Zuckerberg with the lawyer is as crazy as grouping the lawyer together with someone who has 1/10,000th of what he has—a high school kid who has $300 to his name.

Moving on from the one percenters, let’s bring in an ordinary American. In fact, let’s bring intheordinary American—the one with the exact median net worth, $44,911.1

average american wealth

While themean USnet income, at $301,140,1 is one of the world’s highest, the medianUS net income is far lower and only the 27th highest in the world. It’s a mistake to say that the mean, $301,140, represents the average American’s net worth—that’s just what the wealth of each American would be if all American wealth were divided evenly. For example, in a country of ten people, where nine of them hovered around $30,000 net worth and the tenth was worth $10 million, the mean ($1.027 million) would suggest that the average person was a millionaire. The median wealth would be around $30,000 and a much more accurate representation of how the average person was actually doing.

Likewise, our ordinary American above having the median US net worth means that half of Americans are richer than he is and half are poorer. He’s the average American, and with a net worth of just under $45,000, he’s doing worse than the average member of 26 other countries, including not-so-wealthy countries like Greece and Slovenia.* The US’s mean wealth / median wealth ratio of 6.7 is one of the highest in the world and suggests that wealth inequality is particularly high in the US.

And how about an averagehuman? How much wealth does the median adult in the world have?

About $4,000.1

average human wealth

Even if you adjust for the cost of living in poorer countries, this is pretty low. And this is themedian human wealth, meaning thathalf of all adultshave less than $4,000 to their name.

hungry

Sure. What seems to be the problem?

hungry 2

Okay annoying, but I guess also fair. Let’s fix this by converting the gold into a big potato of equal value.

How big a potato could you buy with all the world’s wealth? If a typical potato sells in the US for $.33 and a potato is about 15 cubic inches, or 246 cubic cm, $241 trillion would buy you 179 cubic km of potato, or a potato about 60km long.

the world's wealth as a potato

Enjoy!

huge potato 1

huge potato 2

Ungrateful.

Fine. How big a pizza could we buy for $241 million?

A Domino’s 14″ pizza goes for $19 (at least in New York), which comes out to 52.3cm2per dollar. Using that rate, we can convert all human wealth to a pizza with area 1.26 million km2, which is just about the area of Niger.

the world's wealth as a pizza

eating huge pizza

Okay yeah, you need water I guess. At Poland Spring’s rate of $1 for a 16.9oz bottle, I can convert the world’s wealth into a 31.8 trillion-gallon bottle with a height of 11.6km, just above where airplanes fly.

Huge water bottle

I’m sorry you’re in this situation, but there’s nothing more I can really do to help. Instead, I’ll wrap up by converting all $241 trillion of the world’s wealth into tortoise.

To assist with my calculations, I’ve called upon my pet tortoise and close friend of nine years, Winston.

To Winston’s displeasure, I used a tape measure to determine his proportions—he’s roughly 25cm long, 15cm wide, and 13cm high. His original price tag was $200, making the going tortoise rate $.20/cubic cm.

Using that rate, we can convert all the world’s wealth to tortoise and buy ourselves a 2.7km long tortoise.

Largest Tortoise in the World


Winston

Sources

1. Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse, October 2013.
2. Thomas Reuters GFMS Release – Gold Survey 2013.
3. Forbes Billionaires: Full List of the World’s 500 Richest People.
4.http://www.middleclasspoliticaleconomist.com/2013/10/median-wealth-increases-but-us-still.html
5.http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0717.pdf
6.http://www.joshuakennon.com/how-much-money-does-it-take-to-be-in-the-top-1-of-wealth-and-net-worth-in-the-united-states/
7. Oxfam Briefing Paper – Working for the Few
8. United Nations -The World Distribution of Household Wealth
9. Unicef – Global Inequality: Beyond the Bottom Billion
10.http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/PA.NUS.PPP

The post What Could You Buy With $241 Trillion? appeared first on Wait But Why.

Read the whole story
CliffS
2440 days ago
reply
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Share this story
Delete

Enforced by Radar

2 Comments and 4 Shares

Enforced by Radar

I've occasionally seen "radar enforced" on speed limit signs, and I can't help but ask: How intense would radio waves have to be to stop a car from going over the speed limit, and what would happen if this were attempted?

—joausc

Radio waves exert force on things.

Not a lot of force. The average cell phone transmitter exerts about a billionth of a newton of pressure on its surroundings. That means that it would take several trillion cell phones to collectively levitate a snowflake; the pressure from one phone wouldn't even measurably slow it down.

If the phone did put out enough energy to levitate a snowflake by radiation pressure, the power flowing through the snowflake (a few kilowatts) would quickly cause the snowflake to become a raindrop, which would quickly become water vapor, which would quickly become the least of your problems.

The fate of the snowflake hints at what kinds of problems our car will encounter.

If you want to slow down a one-ton car by radiation pressure, your radar gun would need to deliver about two trillion joules worth of radiation—the energy of a small nuclear weapon.[1]The formula for figuring out that amount out is simple: The energy required is equal to the desired change in speed (say, 20 mph) times the mass of the car times the speed of light. mass-energy of the car (mc2). The radar gun would need to emit even more energy than that, since not all of the radiation will be absorbed (or reflected) by the car.[2]The fact that some of it is reflected makes things easier, since that doubles the momentum delivered by the radiation. This is why simple solar sails are white and not black. For more on radar reflectivity of materials, you can check out one of the worst scanned PDFs I've ever seen.

Your radar gun would also vaporize the car. This is a problem, in one sense, but it's also a solution. Even if most of the energy is reflected, the portion that was absorbed would convert the materials in the car into gas or plasma. The expanding cloud would exert a lot more pressure on the car than the radiation itself.[3]This process, called ablation, is also what got rid of the Moon in the What If #13. This is convenient—it means that we wouldn't need nearly as much energy to stop the car as we would using radiation pressure alone.

There are even simpler ways to slow down a car with radiation. For example, you could aim a radiation beam at the tires and melt them, or use the electromagnetic radiation to knock out the car's electrical systems. Or just use a laser pointer to blind the driver and hope they reflexively slow down.

Of course, you don't need any of those things. If your goal is to slow down the car—rather than to catch speeders—your radar gun doesn't need any power. You can just stand by the side of the road next to a police car holding a fake radar gun.

In the end, a radar gun capable of slowing cars through radiation pressure would be roughly equivalent to a nuclear weapon, and using nuclear strikes in response to traffic violations is probably overkill. It would work, in the literal sense, but it would also destroy the offender, car, police officer, road, and all other traffic for miles around.[4]It would also cause fragments of the driver to violate the speed limit in all directions at once.

Of course, maybe using the apocalyptic radar gun wouldn't be necessary; just the threat of a nuclear strike against drivers would probably deter speeding.

Come to think of it, maybe that's what those other signs you sometimes see are hinting at.

Read the whole story
CliffS
2453 days ago
reply
"using nuclear strikes in response to traffic violations is probably overkill"
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
rclatterbuck
2455 days ago
reply
.
npatrick
2455 days ago
I want a "reproduced from best available copy" stamp.

frescaparty: someone on facebook posted this intending it to be...

12 Comments and 21 Shares


frescaparty:

someone on facebook posted this intending it to be negative but instead it’s INCREDIBLE. go girl scouts

Read the whole story
CliffS
2455 days ago
reply
more reasons to love Girl Scout cookied
Wahiawa, Hawaii
popular
2455 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete
11 public comments
tedder
2451 days ago
reply
why the girl scouts are awesome
Uranus
adamcole
2453 days ago
reply
Obligatory Comic Sans use in right-wing graphic.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
craigbailey
2453 days ago
reply
Awesome!
Sydney, Australia
superiphi
2453 days ago
reply
Hang on, conservative troops were in the girl scouts?
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
tante
2454 days ago
reply
Anti "Girls Scouts" pamphlet is actually great promotion for them
Berlin/Germany
smadin
2455 days ago
reply
Note to self: buy more girl scout cookies
Boston
diannemharris
2455 days ago
reply
I do love the girl scouts!
mmunley
2455 days ago
reply
The Girl Scouts are what the BSA should be.
Chicago
sirshannon
2456 days ago
reply
Someone tell me if this stuff is true. If so, I'm buying a few dozen boxes of cookies.
jepler
2456 days ago
reply
all good except for "new age consultants", but I'll let that one slide.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
srsly
2455 days ago
I think that could just as easily be code word for "consultant of thing I hate", for instance a gsm acceptance consultant to teach the scouts how to accommodate trans people. I doubt the author makes a distinction between real issues that could use specialized expert opinion and Feng Shui.
DGA51
2455 days ago
New age consultants could be almost anything - some of the locals where I live are up and arms over yoga in gym class indoctrinating children in a foreign religion. I don't but the cookies, I just give them money and tell them to give some cookies to a food bank.
ChrisDL
2455 days ago
I second jepler these sentiments. I hope they aren't getting the executives into reiki healing or astrology -.-;;
jepler
2455 days ago
fair enough, fellow commenters
satadru
2456 days ago
reply
Can we just put the boy scouts under the auspices of the girl scouts already?
New York, NY
DMack
2456 days ago
Some mean ladies are going to use this as an excuse to be mean to little girls, lol
reconbot
2455 days ago
In the UK they just have "scouts" it works better that way.
tedder
2451 days ago
no, because mormons like (==financially support) Boy Scouts and aren't huge fans of the Girl Scouts.
satadru
2451 days ago
The girl scouts exist just fine w/o heavy mormon support... I'd imagine since the girl scouts have an existing setup, that the marginal costs of adding boys would be, after initial startup costs, relatively small.

April 28, 2013

4 Comments and 17 Shares

Read the whole story
popular
2771 days ago
reply
CliffS
2771 days ago
reply
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Share this story
Delete
4 public comments
shamgar_bn
2771 days ago
reply
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” -Oscar Wilde
Wake Forest, North Carolina
kwip
2771 days ago
reply
Yes * 1k.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
tedgould
2772 days ago
reply
Information asymmetry is a bad thing for public institutions.
Texas, USA
Next Page of Stories