Do you eat as much as a hobbit?

Posted by ap507 at Jun 10, 2015 12:15 PM |
Scientific investigations by University of Leicester students into Tolkien’s Middle-earth

Issued by the University of Leicester's Press Office on 10 June 2015

A written feature on ‘The Science of Middle-earth’ including links to the papers is available at:  

Students from the University of Leicester have investigated the science of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth – including how much food a hobbit would eat on a typical day. 

Despite their often portly appearance and penchant for pies, based on basic calculations it is likely that hobbits would eat around 1,800 calories a day – which is still more than a man and an elf in Tolkien’s universe.  

The students, who are from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, explored different aspects of Tolkien's universe, from how creatures in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit can grow so large to contemplating the oxygen levels in the atmosphere, in papers for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal. 

In the papers they explore: 

•       The metabolic rate of hobbits, humans and elves and how many calories they should consume daily: Hobbits: 1818.61 kcal/day; Men: 1702.2 kcal/day; Elves: 1416.95 kcal/day

•       How much lembas bread would be required on the journey to destroy the One Ring

•       The amount of water needed to keep Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee alive in Mordor

•       If a shirt of Mithril could really protect Frodo from a cave troll’s spear thrust

•       If the oxygen level in Middle-earth is higher than our own planet, allowing for larger creatures and superhuman antics 

The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers. 

Dr Cheryl Hurkett from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science said: “An important part of being a professional scientist (as well as many other professions) is the ability to make connections between the vast quantity of information students have at their command, and being able to utilise the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new or novel context.  

“The Interdisciplinary Research Journal module models this process, and gives students an opportunity to practise this way of thinking. The intention of this module is to allow students to experience what it’s like to be at the cutting edge of scientific research. 

“The course is engaging to students and the publishing process provides them with an invaluable insight into academic publishing. It also helps students feel more confident when submitting future papers. I find it a very rewarding module to teach and I am always pleased to see my students engaging so enthusiastically with the subject. I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations!” 


Notes to editors: 

For more information please contact students Krisho Manoharan at, Skye Rosetti on and Richard Walker on    

For further information about the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics please contact Dr Cheryl Hurkett on  

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