How much is your time really worth

While a penny doesn't buy much nowadays, Natural Sciences student Osarenkhoe Uwuigbe from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science has investigated the popular idiom ‘A penny for your thoughts’ by working out how much of a person’s thought could theoretically be purchased with a single penny.

The study, which is published in the peer-reviewed student journal the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, suggests that a penny could, in theory, purchase 3 hours, 7 minutes and 30 seconds of thought based on the energy required to run a human brain (roughly 20 watts) and cost based on average UK energy prices (around 16 pence per kWh).

Student Osarenkhoe Uwuigbe said: “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.

“Furthermore, it is unlikely that it is possible to think as fast as you speak due to delay caused by biological constrains such as conduction velocity of nerves carrying the signal from the brain to the mouth, the release of Ca2+ ions during muscle contraction of the tongue and lips and so on.”