[Question] Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo

Ja­cob (Ja­cob) and I are giv­ing each other Fermi es­ti­mates to com­plete.

  1. From Ben: How many miles of train tracks ex­ist in the world?

  2. From Ja­cob: How many met­ric tons of air freight cargo shipped globally in 2009, and in 2019 (ei­ther by com­mer­cial air­lines or spe­cial­ized freight com­pa­nies)? (Fi­nal score will be av­er­age of those scores.

Who­ever is the fur­thest from the truth (in log space) loses.

The dead­line is Mon­day 12th Oc­to­ber. You are wel­come to par­ti­ci­pate.

If you sub­mit a Fermi es­ti­mate as an an­swer (not com­ment) to this post, it will be scored. If you sub­mit for both and would like them both to be scored, your scores will be av­er­aged.

This thread has the fol­low­ing rules which you must obey or else your an­swers/​com­ments will be ed­ited/​deleted.

Rules for this thread

  1. All anal­y­sis of the ques­tion must be in spoiler tags (how do I do that?)

  2. You’re only al­lowed to use num­bers you don’t need to Google.

  3. No ob­ject level anal­y­sis is al­lowed out­side spoilered text.

  4. If your com­ment con­tains the an­swer, or if you know the true an­swer, make sure to men­tion this out­side the spoilered text.

If you’d like an ex­am­ple of what that looks like in prac­tise, see this and this thread. The first thread is es­pe­cially good, where only whitelisted things are al­lowed out­side of the spoiler text.

This is what spoilered text looks like! Your com­ment should mostly look like this, ex­cept for some meta­data at the start so peo­ple can make an in­formed choice about whether to read your com­ment.


Why do this?

Last week Ja­cob ran the bab­ble challenge. More than 20 users joined to prac­tice their cre­ativity by com­ing up with 50 ways of send­ing some­thing to the moon.

This challenge con­tinues in the same spirit. We want to build a cul­ture of prac­tice on LessWrong. A place where you users can come to­gether, push the limits of their abil­ities, and grow stronger as ra­tio­nal­ists. This is an ex­per­i­ment in that di­rec­tion.