Thursday, July 14, 2011

Energy Consumption

Apparently US data centers consumed 61 billion kWh in 2006 (according to this EPA report (PDF)). That sounds like a big number, but I like to judge these things by my favourite Big Energy metric: how much mass would you have to completely annihilate to get that much energy?

Well, assuming I crunched the numbers correctly (ie, assuming I can blindly trust Google's calculator), that amount of energy can be expressed as 2.196*(10^17) joules, which, when divided by the speed of light squared yields: 2.44 kilograms.

Given that the same EPA report claims that this energy usage statistic accounts for 1.5 percent of the total US electricity consumption, that means that to power all of the US for a year, you would need to annihilate 2.44 divided by 0.015 = 163 kg of matter.

That strikes me as a remarkably high number. It means that if I were to encounter my antimatter twin (and both of us weighed somewhere around 68 kg), even if we did fully annihilate each other and even if all the energy from this event were captured (and stored perfectly until needed), this would only power the US for somewhere around 300 days.

This saddens me, because it means that my human-antihuman power supply will require a disturbingly large number of sacrifices to keep running.


  1. Please don't self-sacrifice for US energy gluttony.

  2. which engineering are you studying?
    Do you like waterloo?
    Why did you choose waterloo over toronto?

    sorry for asking random question but it will be a great help

  3. Hi, anonymous prospective student! I'm studying systems design engineering (SYDE) and am in my last year. I applied (and was accepted) to engineering science at U of T, but chose Waterloo because I felt that Waterloo was a better place to gain practical experience (both through co-op and the general focus of the courses).

    Do I like Waterloo? Well, now's perhaps not the best time to ask, with exams only a week away, but I will say that Waterloo has given me experiences that would not have been possible elsewhere (working for Autodesk after four months of university, being a part of the genetically engineered machines team (okay, technically, I could have done that at U of T as well), doing research with the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, and so on).

    Granted, other schools probably have their own uniquely cool experiences and there are definitely some reasons to be wary of both Waterloo and engineering in general, but if you're choosing between Waterloo engineering and Toronto engineering, I'd say the decision largely comes down to whether you prefer theory and research (U of T) or applied problems and industrial experience (Waterloo).

    Maybe I'll write a post about this.

  4. wow, thnks for the response <3 good luck on your exam!!!!!

  5. I guess you would have graduated now