Well, the results came in a while ago, but I forgot to mention that I lost the contest. I was about two orders of magnitude off from the winning answer.

In light of my failure, I'm going to try again in the newest contest. This time the question is a bit stranger:

How many buff hamsters would it take to completely power a mansion?

I encourage all of The Virtuosi readers to enter as well, it only takes a minute to come up with some number.

Good luck one and all.

Data source: Wild guesswork and ignorance.

ReplyDeleteWeight of buff hamster: 25g

Top speed of buff hamster: 1 m/s

Therefore the kinetic energy of a hamster moving at full speed is 1/2 * 0.025 * 1^2 = 0.0125 J, and given that our units were so carefully fudged - sorry, chosen - that's 0.0125 W of power.

Now, the average home has a power consumption of around 9000 kWh, and a mansion is about twenty times the size of the average home, so that's 180,000 kWh we need.

To get this we'd need 14,400,000 (buff) hamsters.

There is a caveat though - hamsters aren't 100% efficient in their power production, in fact they're only 50% efficient (see "data sources", above), so there's an equal amount of heat being produced, and given that heating is a major element of the power cost of a mansion (it certainly is here in Scotland), we can use that energy via a complicated and overly elaborate system of tubes directing the hamsters to the areas in need of heat.

7.2 million buff hamsters, final answer.