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To the editors:
In the Straight Dope of October 7, Cecil Adams said that the average adult human requires about 2,700 kilocalories of energy per day.
According to my dictionary, kilo means a thousand. So 2,700 kilocalories would be two million seven hundred thousand calories.
Even if a person ate only sugar I doubt if they could eat enough of it to provide 2,700,000 calories per day.
You go on to say that a kilogram of airline food, or of anything else has the potential of providing a person with 21.5 trillion kilocalories of energy.
I assume you mean if they ever develop a fusion power plant.
Clarence D. Welborn
Cecil Adams replies:
What’s commonly known as a “calorie” is actually a kilocalorie. Scientists sometimes distinguish between “small” (i.e., real) and “large” (i.e., dietary or kilo) calories to avoid confusion.