Here is a quick one. One of the big news stories recently was this regarding WikiLeaks and the release of the Afghan War Diary. There could be tons of things to discuss regarding this – but I am not going to do that. The first thing that struck my mind was “over 91,000 documents”. That seems like a lot.
If each one of these documents were printed on one page, how big would the stack of paper be?
I could just estimate this – fermi-problem style. But instead, I thought would use a stack of paper. Here is a pack of 500 sheets of paper.
Opening it, I can measure the thickness:
How thick is this stack? I am going to estimate the stack as 5.2 cm (I should use uncertainty here, but I just want a first estimate). This would put the thickness of one sheet at:
So, what would be the height of 91,000 pages?
Over 9 meters (31 feet) is one serious stack of paper. I would hope you wouldn’t have to bind this. How tall would it look? Here is a picture of me standing outside with this stack.
Ok, one more thing. What if I downloaded these things and printed them out? How long would it take?
Take a look at cnet’s top 5 printers. How fast do they print? Oddly, cnet doesn’t list this for all printers. Ok, after some digging it looks like most have a speed of around 10 pages per minute. The Samsung ML-2525W says it has a print speed of up to 24 pages per minute. It also says it has a capacity of 250 sheets – this could be important also. How long would it take to print out these 250 sheets?
For 91,000 pages, I would need to change the paper tray 91,000/250 = 364 times. How long would it take to change the paper? I think with practice, I could get it around 15 seconds. This would give a total print time (assuming the time spent changing printer toner is small) of:
- How much would this cost in printer toner?
- If you used an ink-jet, how long would it take and how much would it cost (with paper)?
- If you had to retype this, how long would it take?
- How long would it take you to scan through these documents looking for something?
Be sure to turn in your homework on plain paper. If it has three-hole punch paper, I will take off points. If it is not stapled in the upper left corner, I will take off points.