Hot air power of debating MPs can light up many bulbs
By Prasun Sonwalkar, London, March 21 : Cynical observers often remark that members of parliament (MPs) produce a lot of useless hot air, but some enterprising physics students have gone on and calculated the power the lawmakers generate during debates: up to 10.34 kilowatts!
According to students of physics at the University of Leicester in Britain, the hot air produced by 650 MPs debating in the House of Commons actually releases up to 10.34 kw of power. This is the same as about 1,000 energy-saving light bulbs or 200 old-fashioned bulbs.
The group of fourth-year masters of physics students published the findings in a paper entitled 'Hot Air in the House of Commons' in the university's Journal of Physics Special Topics.
The journal features original short papers written by students in the final year of their four-year degree at the university's Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and the aim is for them to learn about aspects of publishing and peer review.
The students calculated the power generated from heat flow as MPs breathe in air and heat the air to body temperature in their lungs before breathing out into the room. They took into account the heat capacity and density of air as well as average volume flow rates during prolonged talking -- and found that 2.54 kw would be generated by the 650 MPs.
They also calculated the power output created as water vapour from the MPs' exhaled breath condenses into liquid. They found this would add a further 7.8 kw for 650 MPs, bringing the total output to 10.34 kw.
The paper, written by Daniel Staab, Emily Jane Watkinson, Maria-Theresia Walach and Zach Rogerson, stressed that their findings were based on the assumptions that all MPs are present and talking continuously -- and that there is equal hot air production regardless of party affiliation.
"We assumed the hot air output is the same for members of all parties and will stay the same in the future, regardless of who wins the next elections," said Staab.
They also found the chamber's historic construction does not capture the heat generated by the MPs, and so most of it is lost through the roof.
(Prasun Sonwalkar can be contacted at email@example.com)