Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Mountain of Beef (PIC)

I must say, I like cows. Braised, roasted, grilled... you name it.
While eating a nice steak this evening, a friend and I were discussing how nice it was of the vegetarians to leave more meat for us, and that we should come up with a nice Fermi problem to show our appreciation. The basic theme is the number of cattle slaughtered to fill our collective stomachs.

---- Start Fermi Problem ---

How much beef is consumed in the United States each day?

How much in the world each day?

How many cows have to be slaughtered to provide this much beef, for the US and the world respectively?

If you stuffed all the cows in a big cube, what would the dimensions be for the amount slaughtered in the US and the world respectively?

How long until there would be a "mountains" worth of cows slaughtered?

How many cattle are slaughtered each second for the US and the world?

From these numbers can you estimate how many slaughter houses there are?

---- End Fermi Problem ----

Where is the beef?