March 15, 2013
Q. Try to estimate (guesstimate) how much toilet paper the U.S. uses in the course of a year. Is it a) enough to roll from coast to coast? b) enough to circle the globe? c) enough to reach the moon? d) enough to reach to the nearest star?
A. An odd question, to be sure, but just the type a job interviewer might pose to test how well you think outside the box. “Guesstimating is fun,” says Old Dominion physicist Lawrence Weinstein in his book “Guesstimation 2.0,” who begins by noting that he sits on the commode about once a day and uses roughly 10 sheets of paper each time. But with possible differences in disposal plumbing and with differences between the sexes, to be on the safe side he doubles his daily estimate to 20 sheets.
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