How Many Calories Are In a 500-Page Book?

iStock
iStock

How many calories are in a 500-page paperback book?

Tyler Newcomb:

My goal in this answer is to make Dave Consiglio proud! We’ll see how that goes…

Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

First of all, I want to preface this by saying that a 500-page paperback book can be many different sizes.

  • What is the density of the paper?
  • What size are the pages?
  • Is it recycled paper?
  • Is it coated in something to make it water resistant?
  • How thick are the pages?
  • What is the paper made of? Is it wood? Eucalyptus? Papyrus?

With that being said, let’s get into some number crunching!

FIRST THINGS FIRST

First of all, let’s find the mass of the book, and for simplicity’s sake we will assume that the book is blank paper with 500 identical pages.

The average size of a book is 6 inches by 9 inches, which is about 15 by 23 centimeters for our purposes. Again, I’m rounding to make things easier on all of us. By this measurement we get an area of about 345 centimeters.

For paper thickness, I am going to use 0.08 millimeters, or 0.008 centimeters. This gets us a volume (V = l x w x h) or 2.76 cm3 per piece of paper.

When we multiply this by 500, for the number of pieces, we get a total volume of 1380 cubic centimeters, which is a nice, round number to use for volume.

CALCULATING MASS

Next, we will use the volume and the density to calculate mass.

The density of paper is about 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter. The formula for mass is density = mass/volume, which reworks to be mass = density x volume.

By plugging in numbers, we get mass = 1.2g/cm3 x 1380 cm3. When we solve this, we get a mass of 1656 grams.

WHAT WE KNOW

We know that the mass of our book is about 1660 grams, and our density is 1.2g/cm3. From now on, we will only need our mass.

The specific heat of paper is 1.34J/g, and since we have 1660 grams of mass of paper, we can multiply the two, to get 2225 joules.

One joule is equal to 0.000239006 food calories (or kilocalories), which is what I assume you are interested in. Therefore, we can multiply our value in joules by 0.000239006 to get our energy in calories.

The result is that a 500-page paperback book has about 0.53 calories.

That’s it. A book has a little more than half a food calorie. For the record: I spent much more energy answering this question than I would have gotten from a book.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

What's the Difference Between Straw and Hay?

iStock.com/dusipuffi
iStock.com/dusipuffi

The words straw and hay are often used interchangeably, and it's easy to see why: They're both dry, grassy, and easy to find on farms in the fall. But the two terms actual describe different materials, and once you know what to look for, it's easy to tell the difference between them.

Hay refers to grasses and some legumes such as alfalfa that are grown for use as animal feed. The full plant is harvested—including the heads, leaves, and stems—dried, and typically stored in bales. Hay is what livestock like cattle eat when there isn't enough pasture to go around, or when the weather gets too cold for them to graze. The baled hay most non-farmers are familiar with is dry and yellow, but high-quality hay has more of a greenish hue.

The biggest difference between straw and hay is that straw is the byproduct of crops, not the crop itself. When a plant, such as wheat or barley, has been stripped of its seeds or grains, the stalk is sometimes saved and dried to make straw. This part of the plant is lacking in nutrients, which means it doesn't make great animal fodder. But farmers have found other uses for the material throughout history: It what's used to weave baskets, thatch roofs, and stuff mattresses.

Today, straw is commonly used to decorate pumpkin-picking farms. It's easy to identify (if it's being used in a way that would be wasteful if it were food, chances are it's straw), but even the farms themselves can confuse the two terms. Every hayride you've ever taken, for example, was most likely a straw-ride.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

How and Why Did Silent Letters Emerge in English?

iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr
iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr

Kory Stamper:

The easy answer is “"because English can’t leave well enough alone."

When we first started speaking English around 600 AD, it was totally phonetic: every letter had a sound, and we sounded every letter in a word. But English—and England itself—were influenced quite a bit by the French, who conquered the island in 1066 and held it for a long time. And then later by Dutch and Flemish printers, who were basically the main publishers in England for a solid two centuries, and then by further trading contact with just about every continent on the planet. And while we’re shaking hands and stealing language from every single people-group we meet, different parts of the language started changing at uneven rates.

By the 1400s, English started to lose its phonetic-ness: the way we articulated vowels in words like “loud” changed slowly but dramatically, and that had an effect on the rest of the word. (This is called “The Great Vowel Shift,” and it took place over a few hundred years.) Somewhere in the middle of the GVS, though, English spelling became fixed primarily because of the printing press and the easy distribution/availability of printed materials. In short: we have silent letters because the spelling of words stopped changing to match their pronunciations.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER