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The Return of Fermi Problem Friday: Catching Some Zzzzz's

Newton's first law of motion says that at object at rest tends to stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force - like an alarm clock.

In case you missed it, a group of napping advocates, called the National Association of Friends of the Siesta, hosted a nine-day competition in Madrid, Spain, this October to see who could make the most of a 20-minute nap.

The contest was organized to revitalize the tradition of taking an afternoon siesta - a tradition that is dying out in Spain. Taking afternoon naps is not an uncommon practice around the world, but thanks to today's 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week work lifestyle, fewer people are given the opportunity for a nap.

A 62-year old Ecuadoran man, named Pedro Soria Lopez, beat out 359 other contestants to take home the prize - $1400!!!

Lopez napped for 17 minutes. Though one of the runners-up napped for 18 minutes, Lopez scored extra points during his snooze for snoring at a peak of 70 decibels. (As loud as a vacuum cleaner!)

Contestants earned points for the amount of time they spent asleep - a maximum 20,000 points for a full 20 minutes - and also for flamboyant pajamas, unique sleeping positions (eh?) and, of course, snoring.

So, here's the Fermi problem:

Nearly 30 percent of the contestants actually fell asleep during the contest. Knowing that, how much energy did they conserve by sleeping and not working during the contest? (Math hint: Keep in mind that the Calories we see on our food labels are actually kilocalories.)

We'll have the answer on Monday, so stay tuned!


  1. Doesn't seem if snoring were a problem with these guys, but snoring is a problem


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