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What do Donuts and the Tour de France Have in Common?

With last week signifying National Donut Day, and the rapidly approaching Tour de France next month, Ben Stein of Inside Science, decided to resuscitate an old study that was conducted by the late MIT professor, Philip Morrison, who once combined the consumption of donuts with the Tour de France, to teach a satirical lesson in energy. 

Stein writes: “Morrison conducted an investigation of the Tour de France for his 1987 PBS documentary series “The Ring of Truth.” (In comparison, a normal adult male eats the equivalent of 12 jelly donuts a day, assuming that each jelly donut is about 250 calories.)

“So where do all those donuts go? During a typical day’s race, Morrison said, a biker burns off about 1 or 2 jelly donuts worth of energy in overcoming friction and manipulating his bike.
“Propelling the bike forward in a typical day’s race requires only about 6 jelly donuts of energy.

“Where do the remaining 25 donuts of energy get spent? You guessed right–it’s wasted–in the form of heat. Now, the human body is a relatively efficient machine. But like all machines, it unavoidably generates heat which cannot be employed to perform useful work.

“This heat–20-25 donuts’ worth, according to Morrison–is mainly carried away in the form of sweat created by exertion.

“Competitors drink about 4 gallons of water a day, and this water evaporates from their bodies to carry away the heat. What keeps them cool enough to endure the race, says Morrison, is the streaming wind that hits their face.”

So, what is the moral of this story you ask ? To simply remind readers, they should be riding their bikes to and from those jaunts to Kripsy Kreme.  😉 

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