Starving Dietitian

Chemical 4th

Even days ago I was hearing the explosions of fireworks in my neighborhood. Some were so close I could feel their power, accompanied by a faint whiff of gunpowder.

We marvel at how much energy is stored in such a small capsule. A one inch by one inch firecracker can wreak destruction on nearly anything it gets close to.

So in the spirit of things, I thought I’d look into just how much energy is in the food we eat.

Exhibit A: The Gummy Bear

As the video suggests, the potassium chloride is acting as an oxidizer to burn the carbohydrates in the gummy bear. Granted there was a good deal of energy added to the reaction through heating the test-tube, even so that is one impressive display.

Keep in mind, the average energy in a single gummy bear is a measly 9 kilocalories. (the commonly cited “calorie” is actually a kilocalorie in case you were wondering).

The oxidation reaction shown in the video actually isn’t that far from how our own bodies break down sugars to release vital ATP, the energy source for each and every cell in our bodies.

So now I ask you, what would 2000 kcals of energy look like?

That amount of energy comes to a little over 1 lb of sugar (e.g. 1% of what the average American eats in a year)

What can we do with that amount of energy?

Ever hear of a Sugar Rocket?

Now I don’t condone trying that at home. What I do want to show is that 40 grams of sugar gets you a rocket that goes >1000 ft.

The amount of energy we consume in a day is enough to make 12 of those!

Or, you know, just one really big rocket.

Either way, it’s pretty incredible how much power is in each and every one of us. Remember to be safe with it.

Happy 4th.

– Joshua Iufer

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