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A clever way to estimate enormous numbers - Michael Mitchell

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Have you ever tried to guess how many pieces of candy there are in a jar? Or tackled a mindbender like: “How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?” Physicist Enrico Fermi was very good at problems like these -- learn how he used the power of 10 to make amazingly fast estimations of big numbers.

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  • Animator Mark Phillips
  • Educator Michael Mitchell
  • Narrator Michael Mitchell

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
The accuracy of order of magnitude estimations comes from the balance of under estimates and over estimates. Work through a few Fermi questions and purposely skew some of your responses. Does this affect your final estimation?
The University of Maryland maintains a site dedicated to Fermi Problems. You can see them here: http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/fermi/fermi.htm
Another example of a Fermi-like-problem is the Drake Equation. It tries to estimate the number of intelligent life in the universe. See a TED-Ed lesson about it here: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/calculating-the-odds-of-intelligent-alien-life
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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Animator Mark Phillips
  • Educator Michael Mitchell
  • Narrator Michael Mitchell

Share

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