Written By Rishi Nair (Grade 4)
How many piano tuners live in Chicago? This may seem like an impossible or at least very hard problem to solve at first.
But when you really think about it and calculate it, you can make an estimation that is astonishingly accurate. Such problems are
called Fermi Problems, named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-1954). Fermi was one of the most renowned physicists
of the 20th Century and often entertained his friends and students by asking crazy questions and proceeding to answer them.
A Fermi Problem is a question, usually asking for a quantity or measurement of something, to be answered with limited available
information. The question is not supposed to be directly answered but should have a calculated guess.
I challenged myself to solve one such ridiculous problem, namely: “How fast is the Easter Bunny?” This, like a Fermi Problem, seems impossible. But it is Easter, so perfect timing. If the Easter Bunny – ahem – doesn’t exist (or we never see it) then
how do you calculate how fast it can run? I went about this task by first trying to find out how fast the average bunny is.
But I realised that the Easter Bunny was obviously not an average bunny. So I adopted a new strategy. I wrote down all the information that could be useful for figuring out the top speed of the Easter Bunny. Some of it I got from Google, some of it was obvious.
– Has 12 hours before Easter Day to hide all his eggs
– Has to hide eggs in a whopping 95 countries
– Has to CARRY MILLIONS OF EGGS while running!
This is VERY little to go on. Now, I had to stretch this information a bit, because 95 countries are the majority of countries in the world, and there would be tourists celebrating Easter in other countries. So I counted 95 as all of them, to make it easier to calculate. The inhabited area on Earth is approximately 10% according to my research, meaning, 510 million square kilometres (the area of the earth) multiplied by 10%, or a nice, clean, 51 million square km. Assuming for each square km he travels at least one kilometre in distance to visit all of the houses, 51 million km divided by the given 12 hours makes 4250000 km (I ignored the distances between the inhabited area as that would be absurdly difficult). So this makes 4250000 km/h, as we divided by the number of hours he had. All of this is not accounting for the fact that he also carries millions of eggs with him! If he wasn’t getting weighed down he would probably be faster still! Also, let’s assess this number. 4250000 km/h. A cheetah is between 109.4 km/h and 128 km/h. A peregrine falcon can achieve 320 km/h while diving. The speed of sound in air is 1,225 km/h. That means that the Easter Bunny is at least travelling at Mach 400!!!!!
Imagine the sonic boom that you would hear when it passes by your house…
Featured Image Courtesy – Country Living Magazine