Researcher: a penny will buy about 3 hours' worth of thoughts

The term a penny for your thoughts inspired a researcher to look into what duration of thoughts could actually be purchased with a penny. Quantifying something like this isn't exactly easy, so the researcher decided to base the calculations on energy costs in the United Kingdom, looking at how much energy the human brain uses and how much thinking can be done on a penny's worth of electricity. As it turns out, it doesn't cost much at all to power your epiphanies.

The study was performed by a student researcher at the University of Leicester in the UK, and the results from it were published earlier this month. What they found is that, based on UK energy prices, a penny could buy a person 3 hours, 7 minutes, and thirty seconds of thinking. The study has been published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science.

The study was done by the university's Natural Sciences student Osarenkhoe Uwuigbe, who based the calculations on the fact that adult humans use about 100 watts of power, and that 20-percent of the energy is used up by the brain, meaning it will take 20 watts for this theoretical thinking session. The thinking, in the case of these calculations, takes place at the same rate at which the thinker speaks.

Uwuigbe commented on that, however, saying, "This model is likely to be an underestimate as power required for the brain to operate does not necessarily translate to power used in thought. The brain has several autonomic functions it carries out during thought processing and as a result thought processing could not take 100% of the power consumption of the brain."

You can read the full study here.

SOURCE: University of Leicester