Skip to main content

Consider a Cylindrical Cow: More Adventures in Environmental Problem Solving

John Harte University of California, Berkeley

Sample Problems

1-3. Caesar’s Last Breath 

How likely is it that at least one nitrogen molecule exhaled by Caesar in his last breath will be in the next breath you take? 

III-2. Sleeping Bears 

True hibernators (such as many rodents) metabolize during hibernation at a rate well below half their normal basal metabolic rate.  When a typical 450-kg adult Alaskan bear (Ursus arctos) emerges from its winter hibernation, it is typically about 100 kg lighter than when it entered hibernation 6 month earlier.  The fat it burned off yields about 38 X 106 joules/kilogram.  Is this bear a true hibernator? 

V-5. Will the Seas Go Flat? 

After sitting for an hour at room temperature, a glass of beer will be “flatter” than if it remained cool.  Our oceans contain about 50 times as much carbon dioxide (including its dissociated ionic forms, bicarbonate and carbonate) as does the atmosphere, and thus loss of a sizeable fraction of oceanic carbon dioxide to the atmosphere could have an enormous effect on the atmospheric level of this greenhouse gas.  Could the oceans go flat….? 

For the answers to these problems and many more like them, sharpen your pencil!  (Or get the book.)