How much energy is stored in American body fat?

According to the CDC, the average American is 23 pounds overweight. That’s a lot of extra weight we’re hauling around all the time. And we all know that fat is just food energy that’s been stored for later use by the body… so how much energy are Americans storing in their bulbous midsections? Let’s find out. (If you’d like a musical accompaniment for your reading, feel free to start the following video.)

At the time of this writing, there were 316 million Americans. So, we can find out the total amount of excess body fat in America pretty easily…

 23 lbs/American * 316,000,000 Americans = 7,268,000,000 lbs

That’s 7.3 billion pounds of excess fat we’re working with. In terms of size, it’s 129 million cubic feet – enough fat to completely fill in Lake Crabtree. There’s got to be enough energy stored in all that fat to do something with…

As many dieters know, one pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 food calories (which are actually kilocalories). Each kilocalorie, in turn, is equivalent to 4184 joules (the fancy scientific unit for measuring energy). By simple division, the kilocalorie is equivalent to 4.184 kilojoules or .004184 megajoules. Again, this makes for simple math:

7,268,000,000 lbs * 3500 kcal/lb * .004184 MJ/kcal = 106,432,592,000 MJ

That’s 106 billion megajoules of energy (or 106 petajoules). But most of us have no idea what a megajoule is. So let’s put it in perspective… That’s enough power to run the entire national electricity grid for 3 days. That’s 18 million barrels of oil, more than the total daily production of all US oil fields. Even using the world’s largest oil tankers, you’d still need nine ships to haul that much oil… and it would fetch around $1.2 billion dollars at current oil prices. That’s 100 times more energy than released by the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.

Fat Energy Graph

Let’s be honest – this is pretty gross.

That’s right. Americans are hauling around enough energy in their body fat to power the whole country for three days. Time to go on a diet.

What’s the best Pass the Pigs strategy? (Part 2)

In a previous post, we learned that if you want to maximize your score on any individual turn of a game of “Pass the Pigs,” you should always roll when there’s less than 22.5 points in your hand, and hold when there’s more than 22.5 points in your hand. (If you’ve never heard of “Pass the Pigs,” the rules are explained in the prior post.) However, we also concluded that that’s not an effective strategy for winning the game as a whole. If you have a score of 0 and your opponent has a score of 99, for example, it would be really silly to stop rolling at 23 points just because the “22.5 rule” says to. So what’s a person to do? How do you play effectively? Read on to find out how to really win the game. (Hint: you’ll need to do a lot of math.)

Math isn’t your thing? That’s OK! Here’s a piglet being cute.

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What’s the best Pass the Pigs strategy? (Part 1)

Pass the Pigs is a simple yet addictive dice game that uses cute little plastic pigs as dice. If you’ve never played, the rules are very straightforward. On each turn, a player rolls two pigs. The pigs will land in different positions, which will determine how many points the player has in their hand for that turn. The player may then decide to “pass the pigs” to the next player. If they do this, all of the points in their hand will be added to their official score. They may also decide to roll the pigs again to try to add more points to their hand before passing the pigs. But they must be careful! If the pigs both land on their sides with one showing a dot and the other showing a blank side, they “pig out” and lose all of the points they’ve accumulated in their hand! It’s risky business. The first player to accumulate a score of 100 or higher wins.

Pass the Pigs

Credit: Larry Moore

Like anything with dice (even pig-shaped dice), Pass the Pigs is a game of chance. That means, with a little effort, we should be able to figure out the probabilities of certain things happening in the game, and develop some optimal strategies. So how do you win at Pass the Pigs? Read on to find out.

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