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In Enrico Fermi's eyewitness account of the Trinity nuclear test in 1945, he gives a brief description of a method that he used to estimate the blast energy of the test:

About 40 seconds after the explosion the air blast reached me. I tried to estimate its strength by dropping from about six feet small pieces of paper before, during, and after the passage of the blast wave. Since, at the time, there was no wind I could observe very distinctly and actually measure the displacement of the pieces of paper that were in the process of falling while the blast was passing. The shift was about 2 1/2 meters, which, at the time, I estimated to correspond to the blast that would be produced by ten thousand tons of T.N.T. - c.f. http://www.dannen.com/decision/fermi.html via wikipedia.

Given the information provided in the above statement, is it possible to derive his estimate of 10kT T.N.T equivalent?

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry about that! Didn't realise that this sort of problem was also know as a Fermi Problem! $\endgroup$ – HJCee Aug 6 '15 at 9:56