ERIC Number: EJ896116
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
Thermodynamics and Human Population
Cordry, Sean M.
Physics Teacher, v48 n6 p403-407 Sep 2010
This paper discusses a Fermi-problem exercise through which I take students in several of my college courses. Students work in teams, determining the average daily Caloric needs per person. Then they use insolation values to determine the size of a collection area needed to absorb the previously determined daily energy requirements. Adjustments to the size of the collection area are made based on energy absorption per biological trophic level, as well as the consideration that most diets are a mixture of plant- and animal-derived elements. Finally, using the total amount of farmland available on the planet, students calculate a maximum population value. Although the maximum population values derived herewith should not be considered authoritative, the exercise has three beneficial purposes: 1) a chance to talk about the modeling process and extrapolations, 2) an unexpected application of physics to social contexts, and 3) raising student awareness of population and energy issues.
Descriptors: Energy Management, Thermodynamics, Science Instruction, Science Activities, College Science, Cooperative Learning, Nutrition, Computation, Relevance (Education), Social Environment, Consciousness Raising
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://scitation.aip.org/tpt
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A