Talk:Orders of magnitude (energy)

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I created this page to consolidate the information on the various 1 E* J pages. I think this format makes the information much more accessible and useful to readers. Future edits should probably concentrate on making it easier to scan and digest. See Orders of magnitude (length) for an idea (unfortunately I found that article after I created this one). There are similar collections of pages for length, area, volume and time — and probably others, but I gave up looking for them all. User:Onebyone was gracious enough to merge the info from the various "mass" pages into Orders of magnitude (mass). Below are the individual pages from which the information came (note that some are missing and some redirect to others).

1 E-31 J, 1 E-23 J, 1 E-21 J, 1 E-19 J, 1 E-18 J, 1 E-15 J, 1 E-14 J, 1 E-13 J, 1 E-12 J, 1 E-11 J, 1 E-10 J, 1 E-9 J, 1 E-8 J, 1 E-7 J, 1 E-6 J, 1 E-5 J, 1 E-4 J, 1 E-3 J, 1 E-2 J, 1 E-1 J, 1 E0 J, 1 E1 J, 1 E2 J, 1 E3 J, 1 E4 J, 1 E5 J, 1 E6 J, 1 E7 J, 1 E8 J, 1 E9 J, 1 E10 J, 1 E11 J, 1 E12 J, 1 E13 J, 1 E14 J, 1 E15 J, 1 E16 J, 1 E17 J, 1 E18 J, 1 E19 J, 1 E20 J, 1 E21 J, 1 E22 J, 1 E23 J, 1 E24 J, 1 E25 J, 1 E26 J, 1 E27 J, 1 E30 J, 1 E33 J, 1 E36 J, 1 E39 J, 1 E42 J, 1 E45 J, 1 E48 J, 1 E69 J,

Never had articles:

1 E-30 J, 1 E-29 J, 1 E-28 J, 1 E-27 J, 1 E-26 J, 1 E31 J, 1 E32 J, 1 E35 J, 1 E37 J, 1 E38 J, 1 E40 J, 1 E43 J, 1 E44 J, 1 E46 J, 1 E49 J, 1 E50 J, 1 E51 J, 1 E52 J, 1 E53 J, 1 E54 J, 1 E55 J, 1 E56 J, 1 E57 J, 1 E58 J, 1 E59 J, 1 E60 J, 1 E61 J, 1 E62 J, 1 E63 J, 1 E64 J, 1 E65 J, 1 E66 J, 1 E67 J, 1 E68 J

Now redirect here, to Orders of magnitude (energy):

1 E-25 J, 1 E-24 J, 1 E-22 J, 1 E-20 J, 1 E-17 J, 1 E-16 J, 1 E28 J, 1 E29 J, 1 E34 J, 1 E41 J, 1 E47 J, 1 E70 J.

See Talk:Orders of magnitude for more discussion. - dcljr 09:27, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I'm messing with dcljr's list above, grouping them as I weed them out, getting to here. Gene Nygaard 06:26, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)


This is a hopeless mess, useless as tits on a boar. It is extremely difficult to wade through by moving from one magnitude to the next with the navigation links on each, with little useful information on any page and no useful information on most of them.

I'd suggest changing it to only powers of 1000 in the middle ranges, with 1 E-6 J, for example, covering from 1 µJ to 1 mJ.

Then, at the both ends of the list, one broader category, covering perhaps 10-33 to 10-15 joule on the low end, and 1021 to 1069 on the high end (just suggestions for the neighborhood I'd have in mind. Gene Nygaard 22:07, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Now that all these separate pages have been combined here, they can all be made redirects to this page.--Patrick 22:48, Jan 21, 2005 (UTC)
  1. I'll start by deadening the links to nonexistent pages on this talk page. Hope I'm not violating protocol by messing with postings by dcljr, who appears to have had the same idea of eliminating the other individual pages in mind in starting this page, judging by what is said above.
  2. Then I'll look for others not linked to (other than from here or similar pages) and containing no real information. Maybe some of them can be deleted rather than making redirects?
  3. Then the ones that are linked to can be redirected here. -- Gene Nygaard 23:26, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Error notice posted at ref desk[edit]

I have not made the changes suggested. I agree this is not a page I'd like to engage. Could one of you who watch it check this out? alteripse 14:48, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)[edit]

(Obvious) errors in the "Orders of magnitude (energy")- page, where at least two lines are not correct.

A.) Assuming the line 1.74 × 1016 J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in one second is correct, then the line

B.) 6.2 × 1020 J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in one hour would have to read: 6.2 × 1019 J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in one hour

and the next in context should NOT be

C.) 1.5 × 1023J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in 24 hours

but is either: C1.) 1.5 × 1021J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in 24 hours

and would hence have to be moved upwards in the list, or (what would probably be of higher interest), should read:

C2.) 5.49 × 1023J — total energy from the Sun that hits the Earth in ONE YEAR

Commentary: The fact that the above two lines -lines, which, unlike most others, can easily be checked- are so drastically wrong, leaves the user with a rather unpleasant feeling: "How many figures are wrong too, resp., even worse, are there figures, which are correct?"

Who is capable of double-checking all these informations?

Best regards

J. Schuett (schuett at

Thanks for noticing and taking the trouble. The answer to your question is "You are." Welcome to the community. Accepted procedure would have been to make the corrections in the article and put a note like this on the article's Talk page (where it says, "discuss this page"). Alternatively, if you don't want to make the edit, just put a note like yours above on the talk page. I copied your note to the appropriate talk:Orders of magnitude (energy) page. We'll let those who watch that page confirm and make your corrections. alteripse 14:48, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake?[edit]

In this article:

1.33 × 10^20 J — energy released by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

In 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake:

The total energy released ... has been estimated as 2.0 exajoules (2.0×10^18 joules). (

I don't want to change it. There may be other numbers. -- Toytoy 17:05, Feb 6, 2005 (UTC)

The largest ever underground nuclear test was the 5 megaton Cannikin conducted on Amchitka island in Alaska. (This test was the reason Greenpeace was formed). I thought I remember this test registering as a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, although google searches say 7.0. In any case, the Cannikin result gives an megaton == earthquake relation that can be used to estimate energy released in earthquakes. Jeff Carr 22:59, 21 January 2006 (UTC)


From the page: "2 × 10−4 J (1250 TeV) — Expected ion collision energy level of the Large Hadron Collider being built at CERN (2005)."

Uhmm isn't this way WAY high? I thought the center of mass energy for the LHC was only like 14 TeV....--Deglr6328 03:52, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Need more magnitudes near origin[edit]

I'd like to see more energy magnitude examples near 0, such as 10^-1 and 10^2. Arguably, these are the most common magnitudes of energy perceived by most individuals in our daily lives, and perhaps the most useful as a reference. Presently, it goes straight from "small apple" to subatomic particles... 03:39, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Good Idea, One which would make for an interesting comparison is the energy of the most energetic cosmic ray detected. I remember it being approximately 50J but I can't find a source right now. 09:20, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

According to

Corbert, John H. Physical Geography Manual. 1974. 5th ed. N.p.: Kendall/Hunt, 2003. 127. via

"A large drop of about 5 mm (3/16 in.) diameter reaches a maximum speed of about 9 m/sec."

The kinetic energy would be 1/2 * m * v^2, or 1/2 * 4/3 * pi * r^3 * rho * 9^2, or 2/3 * pi * 1000 * .0025^3 * 81, or approximately 2.651 * 10^-3. This is right in the range of interest, and is a familiar metric.

~~Zeus Kabob — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:19, 10 July 2012 (UTC)


I know a lot of the examples are qualitative but in particular "1.0×10^16 J, the estimated impact energy released in forming Meteor Crater" seem overly so. Are we talking a crater on Earth? Wouldn't it take much less on Mars or the Moon? Is this the minimum estimated energy to create a impact crater on Earth? etc... (talk) 18:04, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

It's not "a meteor crater". It's Meteor Crater. Follow the link! --tcsetattr (talk / contribs) 21:35, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks tcsetattr, my bad. (talk) 16:07, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Indian Ocean Quake[edit]

There was significantly more energy releases in the earthquake than 475 megatons. I believe this figure is based on the potential amount of surface energy released. I might consider erasing erasing that line about the quake —Preceding unsigned comment added by Trilobite12 (talkcontribs) 00:40, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Issues with the listed figures.[edit]

80j for a baseball bat? That's about an order of magnitude too low. Let's use a relatively weak human for this, for the sake of a conservative estimate. Maybe a 3 year old girl?

The average 3 year old should be able to lift about 15 kilos, their weight and a little extra. This means they need 147n of force, 73.5n for each arm. Now, Ignoring the mass of her arm and assuming a 1m radius, she should be able to add ~231j for every full circle with 1 hand. If the swing is a half turn, about what you'd expect in baseball, but with still only 1 arm, something no batter would do because of the risk of wrist injury, it comes to ~115j. That's a toddler. Unless your definition of an average human is an infant, you're a bit off.

Now let's look at the "average" adult male for a second. Able to lift 80 kilos, 40 per arm, which comes to 392 newtons. Their swing should have a greater radius due to their longer arms, I calculated 1.5m if you keep the size of the bat consistent, and with a half-turn and 1 hand that comes to about 923j.

With an adrenalin rush, expect up to 5 times the force and therefore 5 times the energy for the latter example, much more for the former.

1400j for an Ak47? Again, that's a little low. The numbers listed for the mass and velocity of the bullet are also off, which would explain the discrepancy. A 7.62x39mm M43, the standard bullet fired by the Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947 and weaker of the 2, is an 8 gram bullet with a muzzle energy of 710m/s. That comes to a muzzle energy of 2016.4j.

20-90kj for a car? A little low yet again. Let's say "highway speeds" is 10m/s, a VERY conservative estimate. (36km/h) This means a 1000kg car would have a kinetic energy of 50kj. That's a pretty small car, so let's look at a big one. A 4000kg truck should have a kinetic energy of 200kj at the same speed. If "highway speed" is more along the lines of 20-30m/s, (72-108km/h) which is far more accurate, it will be 4-9 times as much for each example, or 200-450kj and .8-1.8mj, respectively.

Most of the others are close enough. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:26, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

dubious bee's wingbeat[edit]

*9×10-4 J, the energy of a cricket's chirp or a bee's wingbeat[1][dubious ]

The above claim has been tagged with {{Dubious}} since November 2008. There was no discussion here so here is some WP:Original research!

Michelle Finnegan listed five measurements for the frequency of bee wings ranging from 110 to 250 Hz.[2]

I first guestimated the mass of a bee as 100 mg, but Erica Feuerbacher measured the average unloaded bee as 73 mg.[3]

Erica's study also helpfully measured both the averagely-loaded bee's wingbeat frequency as "234±1.5 Hz and 233±1.9 Hz" and the metabolic rates: "pollen foragers: 60.5±0.79 mW; nectar foragers: 56.5±0.86 mW". I'll choose 60 mW and 233 Hz.

60 mW is 0.06 Joules per second, during which the bee beats 233 times, so during one wingbeat the bee converts 0.06/233 or 0.00026 Joules, or 2.58×10-4 Joules.

This is under a third of the energy claimed in wikipedia's article, so I am also dubious. Maybe Wallechinsky's book of lists meant a bumblebee whose mass can vary from 40 to 850 mg?[4]

Of course, the bee is not only expending energy to beat its wings, so another approach is to calculate the energy required to hover.

A 73mg bee would expend at least 0.000073 * 9.8 / 2 Joules per second or 0.0003577 Joules per second just to hover (ignoring energy lost in turbulence and noise). Divided by a wingbeat frequency of 233 gives 1.5E-6 Joules per wingbeat. This is six hundred times less than the wikipedia article claim.

I have accordingly removed the bee claim from the article, pending better clarification and sourcing. I left the dubious tag on the cricket's chirp as I am unable to either verify it or reject it as implausible.

  1. ^ Wallechinsky, David; Wallace, Irving; Wallace, Amy (1977 (1st Bantam ed., February 1978)). The Book of Lists. Bantam Books. pp. 268–271. ISBN 0553111507.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Michelle Finnegan. Frequency of Bee Wings
  3. ^ Feuerbacher, Erica; Jennifer H. Fewell, Stephen P. Roberts, Elizabeth F. Smith and Jon F. Harrison (2003). "Effects of load type (pollen or nectar) and load mass on hovering metabolic rate and mechanical power output in the honey bee Apis mellifera". The Journal of Experimental Biology 206: 1855–1865. doi:10.1242/jeb.00347. 
  4. ^ [1]

-84user (talk) 16:55, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

That is excellent original research! I don't trust any of the entries from The Book of Lists. I've already replaced one of its values (lethal dose of X-rays = 900 J) with a value from a more trustworthy academic source (lethal dose of X-rays = 300 J).[1] I've just marked all the other values as dubious, with a link to this discussion. I will replace them with better-sourced values soon. To be fair, a couple of the existing entries do match the rough order of magnitude produced by my own quick estimates. Mynameisnoted (talk) 22:42, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Cygnus X-3[edit]

Should not the ultra-high energy cosmic rays from Cygnus X-3 warrant an entry here? Being 100 - 1000 TeV that would translate to 1.6 x 10-4 - 1.6 x 10-5 if my so-so math skills serve me correctly. __meco (talk) 15:29, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Seems I forgot to mention the conversion unit. I think it is supposed to be Joule though. __meco (talk) 09:09, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

The theoretical minimum amount of energy required to melt a tonne of steel[edit]

I'm not sure how this figure came about. Calculating the energy in joules, by multiplying the mass (1000kg), specific heat capacity of steel (420 joules per Kg-Kelvin) by ~1,500 (25 to 1523 celsius) comes out at 630 Megajoules, which added to the latent energy of 270,000 joules per Kg, gives a total of 900 Megajoules as a minimum to heat this quanity of steel so that it melts, rather than 1,200 Megajoules,or does the SHC of melting steel increase at this stage?

Any oversights that need correction are welcome. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:59, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Please help and add[edit]

I added some Olympics' energy records to hectojoules and kilojoules section but messed it to some extend, please correct them and add more sports/melee/firearm energy data to the list. By the way the info on baseball swing and jumping high should be either verified or deleted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:27, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

One food calorie is equal to 4.184 kilojoules.[edit]

and not 4.814 as cited in note #87. hence the result in the 10^6 magnitude converting 2000 to 9.6×106 J is a mistake. the correct result is close to 8.4. haven't edited it myself. --Quatso (talk) 11:59, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing this out. I have just corrected it and the same mistake in the entry for 2600 food calories. Nice catch! Mynameisnoted (talk) 18:40, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Energies that should be added to the list[edit]

Gravitational binding energy of Mimas = 2.9*10^23 J Gravitational binding energy of Pluto = 6*10^27 J Gravitational binding energy of the Moon = 1.3*10^29 J Mass-energy of Pluto = 1.17*10^39 J Mass-energy of the Moon = 6.6*10^39 J Mass-energy of Saturn = 5.1*10^43 J Mass-energy of Jupiter = 1.7*10^44 J — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:31, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure that these help our list in any way. This isn't supposed to be an encyclopedic list of the binding energies (or the mass-energies) of every body in the solar system (although such a list might be valuable as a separate article). It's a list of (hopefully) layman-comprehensible energies that provide a better "gut feel" for the amount of energy present when you say something like "1 Mega Joule". Think of this as something like when a journalist says "This new ship is twenty three football-fields long!" - what we need here is a handy list of things like "football field" in the orders of magnitude (length) article. In that context, I'm not sure that the binding-energy of anything whatever belongs here - and one or at most two examples for mass-energy of planets easily suffices to provide some markers for energies in the 1040 range. SteveBaker (talk) 13:15, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Citation #171 is missing[edit]

From the page:

"Amount of energy added to climate by anthropogenic greenhouse gasses[171]"

But this link for the citation is down. Is there a reason for this? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:36, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

This item seems out of context with the others on this page, and may make readers suspect of its motivation for being put here. Recommend removal; perhaps we can find something more relatable in this energy range? A suggestion, it's a somewhat recent event that people may recall: "Energy released in the collision of comet Shoemaker with Jupiter" [2] . fwiw. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:17, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

The citation was non existent when added [3]. And a look in the ref doesn't seem to find any similarly named ref which could have been intended. I'm not sure whether the OP misunderstood how citations work and thought giving the IPCC as a ref was enough or what. I presume it would be too hard to verify whether the IPCC have come up with such a figure if anyone can bother. Nil Einne (talk) 19:49, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
    • ^ "Ionizing Radiation". General Chemistry Topic Review: Nuclear Chemistry. Bodner Research Web. Retrieved 5 November 2011.