Category Archives: Science

How many gallons of human blood are there?

For this we need to know how many people there are and the average amount of blood in each one. Unfortunately, I will be assuming that all humans are adult sized with an adult amount of blood, which I’m fairly sure is not the case, so the estimated value will be higher than the actual value by a fairly substantial amount.
Now then. As of January 3rd, 2014, the date which this was written, the Worldometers world population clock [1] put the total world population at about 7.204 billion people.
As for blood, hypertextbook [2] cites several scientific studies which have found that the amount of blood in the average adult is right around 5 liters (or about 5 quarts). This means that the average person has about 1.25 gallons of blood.
By multiplying the two results we find that the total amount of human blood is right around 9 billion gallons.
Using data from a 2010 Pew poll of world religions [3] we find that there are 2.8 billion gallons of Christian blood, 2.1 billion gallons of Muslim blood, 1.4 gallons of Hindu blood and only 18 million gallons of Jewish blood. (These numbers don’t add up to the total because of other religions and the 1.5 gallons of unaffiliated blood)

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Filed under Biology, Mathematics, Religion

Plutonium and an Announcement

Plutonium is element 94 and as such it has 94 protons in its nucleus. There are twenty known isotopes of plutonium with half-lifes ranging from 14 years (Pu-241) to 80 million years (Pu-244); there are no stable isotopes of plutonium, so it is only found naturally in trace amounts and most plutonium in use was created by human activity. The most obvious use of plutonium is in nuclear weapons, and the production of Pu-239 has made it the most abundant of the plutonium isotopes. The atomic bomb “Fat Man”, which was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 used 6.2kg of plutonium, and 1-4kg of plutonium is considered to be all that is needed to build a well-designed nuclear device. Nuclear fuel is also a viable use of plutonium, the space probes Cassini, Voyager and New Horizons all use a plutonium, probably Pu-238, fuel source. Finally, if you ever have the opportunity to eat plutonium, don’t. Particulate plutonium can enter the lungs, where it decays and could cause radiation poisoning or cancer. Besides, plutonium tastes like metal.

Now, I’m off school for the next couple of months, so expect more Apocrypha. I don’t plan on setting up a formal schedule right now, but perhaps in the future I will. Anyway, have a great summer (or winter for you southern hemisphere people)


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Filed under Meta, Physics, Science

Leap Years, Days and Seconds

2012 was a leap year, 2013 wasn’t, 2016 will be, 2014 won’t be, 2000 was and 1900 was not. Years are about 365 days long, but not exactly (measuring years is kind of hard to do and there are different ways of doing it, but a sidereal year is about 365.256363004 days long, and a tropical year is about 365.24219 days long, the difference is in the way the two are measured), and this difference between clean lengths of time like 365 days and the awkward 365.24219 days is enough to throw seasons off so that summer occurs in December. The Gregorian calendar uses a trick to adjust for this, adding a day to February. Normally, a year in the Gregorian calendar has 365 days, except for every fourth year (4, 8, 12, 16, …2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) which have 366 days. However, every 100th year (100, 200, 300, …2100, 2200, 2300) will not have a leap day, and thus have 365 days. Finally, every 400th year (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400) will have a leap day, and be 366 days long. This brings the average Gregorian calendar year to 365.2425 days long, not terribly different from the 365.24219 day long tropical year. Finally, leap seconds. The length of a day varies slightly, caused by gravitational forces on the Earth by the moon, sun, and other planets and usually only changes by a second, over the course of time. To keep the average length of a day as close to 86400 seconds as possible. Like leap years, leap seconds keep the rigid 86400 second day from drifting so 12-noon was sunset.

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Filed under Culture, Mathematics, Science


Sildenafil (other uncommon names: 1-[4-ethoxy-3-(6,7-dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)phenylsulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine, or C22H30N6O4S) is a common prescription drug originally synthesized by a group at the Pfizer’s facility in Sandwich, Kent, UK for use as a hypertension and heart disease drug, however, clinical trials found little impact on heart disease. It does however work well for treatment of a specific type of hypertension called pulmonary hypertension as well as altitude sickness, which may be experienced by mountain climbers and pilots, and another disorder. Some rare but serious side effects of sildenafil include stroke, heart attack, hypotension, and sudden hearing loss. Although illegal to use without a prescription, there is recreational use of sildenafil which is not diminished by the drug’s brand name and notoriety. Finally, the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize (not to be confused with the Nobel Prize) in Aviation went to an Argentinian team who discovered that sildenafil positively impacted how quickly hamsters recover from jet lag. Bonus points if you can guess the brand name of sildenafil (no cheating).

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Filed under Biology, Medicine, Science

Nature’s Bad@$$es: The Pen-Tailed Treeshrew

I’m changing the “Historical Bad@$$” series to the “Bad@$$es” category, which will also include different species of animals.

Like many treeshrews, the pen-tailed treeshrew has a high brain-to-body mass ratio, but unlike other treeshrews, it is nocturnal. Also, its diet consists mainly of alcohol. The pen-tailed treeshrew spends several hours each night drinking fermented nectar from the bertam palm tree equivalent to 10-12 wine glasses of 3.8% alcohol. The pen-tailed treeshrew does not get intoxicated, despite alcohol levels that would affect humans, because they make extensive use of an alcohol metabolism pathway not highly used in humans.

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Filed under Bad@$$es, Biology, Science

Historical Bad@$$: Nikola Tesla

Yes, Tesla. The Serbian-American inventor who worked for Thomas Edison, who was obsessed with the number 3 and died broke trying to tend for an imaginary pigeon that shot lasers from its eyes (the term laser hadn’t been invented yet though). He has an SI unit named after him (the tesla, represented by the symbol T, is a measure of the strength of a magnetic field), and his inventions include no less than:

  • Alternating Current (AC, still in use today)
  • The light bulb (namely the fluorescent lamp, still in use today) and neon lighting
  • Radio (Tesla let Marconi, the person credited with radio, use 17 of his, Tesla’s, patents)
  • Radio (invented 18 years before the person credited with its invention)
  • X-ray photography (Tesla x-rayed his own hand as a test, and he knew of the dangerous effects of x-rays)
  • The remote control
  • The electric motor
  • Wireless communications

He also:

  • Had the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls built
  • Experimented in cryogenics
  • Held patents for the predecessors of transistors (used in computers)
  • Sent the first radio transmissions into space
  • Determined the resonant frequency of the Earth
  • Almost destroyed a New York suburb using a resonance machine (also known as an earthquake machine)
  • Reproduced ball lightning in his laboratory (a feat not attained since)

Finally, Wardenclyffe.

Remember the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant? Yeah, that was built to help provide cheap electricity to the Wardenclyffe Laboratory which would, get this, electrify the Earths atmosphere, providing free electricity to everyone. Unfortunately, the Wardenclyffe tower, from which electricity would be broadcasted, was destroyed in 1917. In October 2012 a crowd-funded project collected $1.37 million, plus a $850,000 grant from the state of New York, to build a museum to Nikola Tesla on the old Wardenclyffe grounds.

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Filed under Historical Bad@$$, Science

From the Archives: Historical Bad@$$es: The Moonwalkers (August 25)

In memoriam of the first moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, today’s fun fact is about the moonwalkers:

Nine manned missions to the moon have taken place since 1968 when the Apollo 8 mission was launched, and all have been undertaken by the United

States. Of those missions (Apollo 8, 10-17), six (Apollo 11, 12, 14-17) landed on the moon. The following is the list of people who have been to the moon (meaning they have at least been in orbit around the moon), in order of date orbited, then rank for mission. Those marked with an asterisk (*) walked on the moon during the indicated mission, those marked with a caret (^) are appearing on the list for a second time.
Apollo 8: Commander Frank Borman II
Command Module Pilot James Lovell Jr.
Lunar Module Pilot William Anders
Apollo 9: Commander James McDivitt
Command Module Pilot David Scott
Lunar Module Pilot Russell “Rusty” Schweickart
Apollo 10: Commander Thomas Stafford
Command Module Pilot John Young
Lunar Module Pilot Eugene Cernan
Apollo 11: Commander Neil Armstrong*
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.*
Apollo 12: Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr.*
Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon Jr.
Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean*
Apollo 13: Commander James Lovell Jr.^
Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly II
Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise Jr.
Apollo 14: Commander Alan Shepard Jr.*
Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa
Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell*
Apollo 15: Commander David Scott*
Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden
Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin*
Apollo 16: Commander John Young^*
Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly II
Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke Jr.*
Apollo 17: Commander Eugene Cernan^*
Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans
Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt*

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Filed under From the Archives, Historical Bad@$$, History, Science, Space