February 16, 2019

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Super Bowl LIII Snack Food — Intense Biochemical Energy With A Little Radiation

Super Bowl LIII Snack Food — Intense Biochemical Energy With A Little Radiation
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11 million pounds of potato chips will be consumed during Super Bowl LIII today, emitting 20 quadrillion particles of beta-radiation into our gastrointestinal systems during the game. But it’s only the fat and salt that will hurt anyone.Rupert

If you think last week’s Polar Vortex took a lot of energy, just wait until today’s Super Bowl.

Never mind that it will be biochemical in nature.

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The 300 million gallons of beer that will be drunk during Super Bowl LIII is almost a gallon for every man women and child in America. Almost as much as the amount of water that will flow over Niagara Falls during Maroon 5’s halftime show.  Add to that the:

– 70 million pounds of avocados

– 20 million pounds of chips, over half potato – the rest corn

– 6 million pizzas

– 5 million pounds of pretzels

– 4 million pounds of popcorn

– 3 million pounds of nuts

– 50 million pounds of “other” (I hesitate to guess what’s included in this!)

The 2 million rice cakes consumed will be the only nod to health consciousness. I don’t even want to think about kale chips.

My own gut will convert a small portion of these calories into 120 Watt-hours of energy, 30 of which I will put to actual work, like raising the beer to my mouth.

Only Thanksgiving processes more calories through the American gut. But the joule of this Super Bowl crown is the billion-plus chicken wings that will be consumed in the few hours after the pre-game show begins.

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The 600 million chickens that provided their arms for these morsels had hoped that bad officiating in the playoffs would give them a reprieve. But that pipe-dream was belied by the dozens of $5-million-apiece 30-second TV ads, the $3 million paid to the players for a tough day’s work, the $400 million dollars in ticket sales, and the $200 million that was spent to lodge those fans last night.

At least Maroon 5 will be performing for free, although it might end up costing them in some other currency.

The superhuman amount of chemical energy that will be released by passage of this mass of foodstuffs through a hundred and eight million intestinal tracks will be equivalent to 240 million kWhrs of electricity, equal to the total output of America’s 99 nuclear power plants during the game.

The food will even emit more radiation than these nuclear plants, mainly because of the potassium-40 beta-emitter that is in potato chips. Yes, the potato chip is the most radioactive food, with about 400 Bq/gram (meaning four hundred K40 nucleii disintegrate every second in every gram of chips by emitting a beta-particle).

20 quadrillion beta particles from the 11 million pounds of chips will blast our 108 million guts during the game. While I’ve made it sound like a lot, this is actually trivial compared to the background radiation each person gets every day from natural background radiation. It just takes a really huge amount of radiation to do any harm at all. The fat and salt in the chips will do more damage than the radiation ever could.

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Since American’s will spend $30 billion to buy this food, but only $37 million in energy to cook it, the market is way in favor of the food industry relative to the power industry.

But we should all be truly thankful that America produces such cheap energy that the total annual output of a square-mile solar array can be put exclusively to grill, fry, bake, boil, chill, pour and blend this huge amount of food to the point where it can fuel the focused attention of 108 million Americans on 44 muscular humans pounding themselves into the turf.

Even more amazing is that this 250,000,000 kWhrs will only cost us 30¢ a head, a paltry sum compared to the $3,000 spent on the average Super Bowl ticket.

A real steal.



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